Despite improvement, study shows record number still in need

Despite improvement, study shows record number still in need

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by RICHARD DEVAYNE / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @richardwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on November 14, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 12:26 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The volunteers at The Episcopal of the Holy Comforter Church work stocking shelves and refrigerators in the church’s food pantry. Other volunteers also escort clients around helping them stock their shopping carts with food and other items, thus helping them get by during what has been a very difficult time for so many in Charlotte.

 
"This is my second time coming here," said one woman who did not want to be identified, "It's really difficult it’s been a really, really tough year for us." 
 
The woman has two teenage children and said while she works as a cook, with all the necessities like clothes, rent, and other items, many times, the last week of the month she is forced to go without food.
 
"That's probably the most difficult thing, is having to sit my kids down and explain to them, having them come home from school, that the refrigerator is empty," the woman said outside the Comforter's food pantry.
 
On this day a car pulls up to deliver several boxes of turkeys from Loaves and Fishes which supports the pantry along with 19 others in Mecklenburg County. 
 
The non-profit Loaves and Fishes has helped give families a week's worth of groceries at no cost to help them bridge the gap so many families are facing every month.
 
When Loaves and Fishes began in 1975 they fed 1,000 people. Last year it gave food and other essential items to 114,177 people including Vivian Wright, who has had to come to the pantry at the church for more than two years.
 
"If it wasn't for these people helping people like me, there's no telling where I'd be," said Wright, "It helps me out a lot; I need it to feed myself and my grand kids, it’s a need." 
 
On Wednesday, dozens of Time Warner employees volunteered part of their day to help deliver 700 turkeys and chickens to the 19 pantries that Loaves and Fishes supports. The employees have helped deliver turkeys for the last half dozen years.
 
Also on Wednesday, Loaves and Fishes released its annual Client study which shows some improvement, but still highlights the depth of the problems facing so many people in Mecklenburg County. Loaves and Fishes helps families in crisis by providing a week's work of food. 
 
Part of the study reveals that this year 46 percent of clients said they were unemployed, compared to 55 percent last year. 
 
Another finding in the study shows that while last year 57 percent of respondents said they had been unemployed for more than a year, 43 percent said they had been without a job for six months or less. 
 
While the numbers suggest that things are improving, Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Beverly Howard said this year they expect to feed more people than last year, when they served a record number of people in crisis.
"When the economy is at its very best Loaves and Fishes still has thousands of families to help. We're just hoping the increase will start lessening a little bit," Howard said.
 

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