To the editor:
Statistics from 2009 indicate 23.7 percent of Douglas County citizens live in poverty, 27,583 individuals, including 4,121 children. ECKAN/Just Food opened a warehouse food bank operation in October 2009 with available federal stimulus funds. In January 2010, 401 households used the pantry; by January 2011, 731.
Loss of federal funds and grants, plus increased demand, has put a financial strain on the pantry, threatening its future. They operate on a budget of $132,000 annually. This pays for two full-time employees, rent, insurance and accompanying business expenses. Volunteer hours equal three full-time employees.
Just Food partners with seven local pantries, organizations like CLO, and partners with Harvesters, allowing for purchase of groceries for 10 cents a pound. Last year, food distributed was 700,000 pounds.
Food drives help keep items on the shelf, but the future for providing help to the hungry lies in sustained financial giving. A 200-pound food donation becomes 2,000 pounds when replaced by dollars.
Leadership Lawrence adopted Just Food for a project, creating a secure website (http://www.justfoodfund.org) for donations. All contributions stay in Douglas County and are tax deductible. Closing of Just Food would put additional strain on Ballard, Salvation Army, Heartland and smaller emergency pantries. Customers are limited to one visit a month and receive about five days of food.