[Hpn] Fighting hunger in New Hampshire

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Fri, 21 Dec 2007 21:51:54 -0500


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Gift of food


Fighting hunger in New Hampshire=20


By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

On Nov. 30, the New York Times featured New Hampshire's food bank in a =
story about food shortages.=20

The plight of New Hampshire Food Bank caught the attention of musicians =
Stefan Lessard, the bassist from the Dave Matthews Band; Ed Robertson of =
Barenaked Ladies, and Adam Gardner of Guster. They will perform together =
as Yukon Kornelius in Vermont to benefit the New Hampshire and Vermont =
food banks in January.=20

New Hampshire's food bank is down about half a million pounds of =
inventory compared to last year, said executive director Melanie =
Gosselin. Meanwhile, she's heard from their member agencies that demand =
is up between 30 and 40 percent. The NH Food Bank is a supplier for 352 =
agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens and day care centers. =
It distributed 200,000 more pounds of food this November than last.=20

NHFB has been turning over inventory as soon as it comes in the door. =
The shortage got so bad they started distributing emergency food, =
draining reserves by about half.=20

Fortunately, gifts and food drives come in at this time of year. The =
food bank was able to meet Thanksgiving requests.=20

"We are very grateful and thankful that we were able to do that," =
Gosselin said. Now they are gearing up to fill Christmas wish lists.=20

"We know that the community pulls through for us so we're extremely =
thankful for that," Gosselin said. She also noted that the governor "has =
been extremely supportive." Gov. Lynch and Senate president Sylvia =
Larsen toured the Food Bank in October.

"The needs of the food bank are greater than ever. Overall the food =
bank's inventory is down 70 percent and this greatly impacts the 95,000 =
people in the state who depend on the food bank for food," Lynch stated =
in an Oct. 15 release. Larsen challenged state employees to hold food =
and fund drives, and she held one at the Statehouse.=20

The food bank has been able to stop releasing emergency food. It has =
about 500 boxes, each with less than a week's worth of food for a family =
of four; those are meant to be used for situations like fires or floods. =
Gosselin wants to ensure reserve is available to react to situations in =
the North Country following the mill closure.=20

It's permanent=20
A major reason for food bank shortages is the decrease in staple product =
donations from grocery stores. It's not a temporary drop. Most stores =
now use sophisticated point-of-sale systems to monitor how much is being =
brought into the store versus what the consumer is buying, said John =
Dumais of the NH Grocers Association.=20

"No one's carrying big inventories any more. Typically we've benefited =
from those overstock situations," Gosselin said.

Grocers operate on less than 1 percent annual net profit, so better =
inventory management is key, Dumais said.=20

Yet this marks a major change in how the Food Bank will seek supplies.

If businesses aren't overpurchasing, then manufacturers aren't =
overmanufacturing, Gosselin pointed out. That means hourly workers might =
be sent home early.=20

"The cycle just sort of perpetuates itself," Gosselin said.=20

The New Hampshire Food Bank received 20 percent less inventory this year =
from America's Second Harvest, Gosselin said. Second Harvest =
redistributes donations from national food and grocery companies and the =
USDA to food banks. Overall donations to the national office have been =
down about 9 percent, although they are still distributing about 500,000 =
pounds of food, said Ross Fraser of Second Harvest. Food banks =
distribute about 2 billion pounds total. The kind of foods available =
change, "as America changes the way it eats," Fraser said. There's been =
a big trend for fresh food. Thirty years ago, he recalls, frozen fish =
sticks were the only kind of fish he saw. People now eat less canned or =
"staple" food.=20

"That presents a lot of challenges for food banks, as it [does] for us," =
Fraser said. Limited refrigeration at food banks is one issue.=20

To distribute, Second Harvest tells food banks what's available, and the =
food banks bid. Shipping costs are a factor as gas prices rise. =
Different food banks might have different needs, and those in =
"food-rich" areas of the country depend less on Second Harvest.=20

Cost of living=20
New Horizons food pantry, soup kitchen and shelter in Manchester is one =
of the Food Bank's 18 food pantry members in Manchester. Workers are =
cooking more at the soup kitchen and food pantry lines are "certainly =
longer" on the four weekly distribution days, said New Horizons =
development director Susan Howland.=20

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, giving picked up. West and Memorial High =
School did "huge" food drives this year "and really, really filled our =
shelves for us," Howland said.

"Fortunately the holidays inspire a lot of giving," Howland said. As =
Christmas nears, New Horizons will need to find a lot of turkeys.=20

Howland and others in food assistance worry about January and February. =
Aside from the end of holiday food and fund drives, it gets colder, and =
heating bills get higher. Food expenses went up about 7 percent from =
last year, Gosselin said. New Hampshire imports a lot of food, and food =
transport costs rise when fuel costs rise.

"Our basic ingredients like corn, soy, wheat, those large commodities =
grown in the Midwest, are subsidized, so that helps generally keep =
prices low in the United States, but the cost of fuel has had a counter =
effect in rising prices more recently," said Helen Costello, registered =
dietitian and Nutrition Crossroads consultant.=20

Howland also finds people coming to New Horizons food pantry if someone =
in their family loses a job or is ill.=20

"It was pretty awful last year, too," said Eileen Brady, a 14-year =
social worker at Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter (NSKS). There are =
usually three catalysts to increased need for food. Housing shortages =
causing high rent or layoffs or high unemployment are two. This year =
it's gas and heating prices. The state passed a minimum wage increase =
this year, but that won't go far when gas costs a dollar more per =
gallon, she said.=20

"I think people are taking extra money they have to pay for fuel ... =
something's gotta give," said Robin Peters, who works for UNH =
Cooperative Extension food and nutrition program. Parents she's worked =
with have gone without so kids can eat. She sees people go without =
medication to buy food.=20

Gosselin hasn't heard of any pantries that have had to close. The food =
bank tries to encourage partnerships and pooling of resources between =
agencies so they can help each other. Communication is key in keeping =
transport costs down for the network.

The Food Bank makes drops at different locations throughout the month. =
Agencies can preorder and go to the drop or shop directly at the =
facility.=20

"Everybody's finances are stretched further today, so it's harder and =
harder to have the extra resources to give," Howland said. Gosselin said =
regular contributors have sent notes with donations, saying, "Sorry, =
this is all I can do this year."

"We're grateful they're able to do something," Gosselin said. She =
realizes many donors are one paycheck away from needing assistance =
themselves, she said.=20

The Food Bank shortage affected New Horizons, but the bank appealed to =
the community to keep shelves full. "They always have come to our =
rescue," New Horizons' Howland said. In Nashua, NSKS workers post lists =
of items they need on their Web site and try to keep in the public eye =
so people remember they are there, Brady said.=20

Front line
Places like New Horizons and the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter have =
two ways to counter shortages which food banks or pantries that open a =
few hours per week don't have. New Horizons and NSKS can distribute =
perishables quickly and accept food almost any time. Since New Horizons =
has a shelter, it can essentially receive donations 24 hours per day.=20

"That's been our policy for many years now," Howland said. NSKS is open =
all day and people have tracked down their shelter at night to drop =
food. Because they have kitchens and serve meals daily, they can make =
use of food with a short shelf life and leftovers from catered events, =
birthday parties or funerals.=20

Extreme Makeover Home Edition sent truckloads of food to NSKS during =
their Manchester shoot in October because much more was donated than the =
show needed, Brady said.=20

Farms and grocery stores like Hannaford send produce to NSKS. NSKS =
serves 100 families per day through the food pantry and 250 meals per =
day. They feed 30 shelter guests, too.=20

"It's a great amount of food that moves in the course of the week," =
Brady said.=20

Brady said it's items like canned goods that have decreased from grocery =
store donations. Fresh food inventory still has many variables. There's =
so much competition between supermarkets that it's also hard for =
businesses to guess where people will shop when, Brady said. Stores are =
likely to donate overstocked seasonal items like egg nog or pumpkin pie =
filling before the shelf life ends, Dumais said. Bakery, dairy or meat =
can be donated if it's taken from the shelves before it starts to spoil, =
he said. A store might stock up on barbecue fixings for a summer weekend =
and then donate unsold perishables if it rains, Dumais said.=20

Ironically, when produce prices get too high because of some crop crisis =
like an orange tree frost, NSKS can end up with a glut. They had plenty =
of tomatoes when costs skyrocketed - "I figured it was the price," Brady =
said. Consumers might do without the ingredient rather than pay extra, =
Dumais said, and they also pass over items that don't look perfect. =
Grocery stores used to keep products longer; now "everybody's looking =
for the freshest available," Dumais said. "We have a luxury in this =
country today of quick transportation across the country," he said. =
Something can be picked in California and be on the East Coast in a =
couple days, and people are used to that. So less-than-perfect peppers =
can end up at the soup kitchen.

Another culture change is consumers' tight schedules. Now in-store chefs =
prepare take-home meals, Dumais said. The food bank is developing a new =
program to recover those leftovers, called Food Rescue, Dumais said. =
He's the food bank's advisory board chair.=20

The New Hampshire Grocers Association is in "constant contact" with the =
New Hampshire Food Bank, Dumais said. Major wholesalers support the food =
bank. Associated Grocers of New England donated 1,000 pounds of turkey =
for Thanksgiving so the food bank could meet needs. The Good Samaritan =
Law protects companies so they aren't liable if they believe food they =
donate is safe; there can be some tax benefits to donating extra =
products, in addition to decreasing dumpster fees.=20

One of the other factors causing the shortage of staples is that =
discounters like dollar stores are buying up salvage. If a vendor drops =
a case of canned peas and a few are dented, the store can return them =
for credit or donate them. Returned products can end up on the =
"secondary" retail market, Dumais said. NHGA recommends donating.=20

Several area farms send surplus to NSKS, as do home gardeners (lots of =
zucchini). Of course, that's not as helpful in the winter, and summer =
weather affects crops.=20

"People are exceedingly generous," Brady said of the greater Nashua =
community. Volunteers pick up leftovers from stores, which is even more =
generous as gas prices rise.=20

NSKS doesn't have room to warehouse food, but there's a big turnover, =
and they share inventory with pantries that are only open a few hours =
per week.=20

Mac and cheese=20
The availability of fresh vegetables and fruit draws people to the NSKS =
pantry, especially diabetics and people concerned about their children's =
health. Produce is "so expensive" in the stores, Brady said. NSKS had =
bags of apples to give out last week, equivalent to $3 or $4, Brady =
said. Food stamps don't get you far if you want to use them for fruits =
and vegetables, she said.

There needs to be more awareness of the locations and hours of food =
pantries and soup kitchens to supplement what people can buy with income =
and food stamps, said Peters, who is based in Plymouth.=20

Food stamps are designed to be supplemented with discretionary income, =
said Valerie Long, a nutritionist from the UNH Cooperative Extension. =
Yet the reality is that many families using food stamps don't have =
enough discretionary income to do that.=20

"It's a very difficult situation because we can see the increase in cost =
of food and limit of food availability at food pantries at shelters," =
Long said. People are buying food that is less expensive but also less =
nutritious. Diets might be higher in carbohydrates. Boxed macaroni and =
cheese and noodle soup are cheap, but they are high in carbohydrates, =
sodium and sugars and can make a big impact on a person's nutrition - =
and people develop a taste for those ingredients.=20

Peters asks that people be "cognizant" of what they donate. Although =
there's a shortage of canned goods, people are sometimes just cleaning =
out their cupboards when they send food to pantries.=20

"Think about what your family would eat," she said.=20

It's important to find ways to connect locally produced food with low- =
or limited-income families in need of food, and there is more =
opportunity to do that, said Nutrition Crossroads' Costello.=20

Nesenkeag Cooperative Farm in Litchfield grows organic "first quality" =
for the NH Food Bank through a grant from Share Our Strength.=20

WIC issues coupons to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers' =
markets.=20

"That has been a very successful program. It helps bring fresh local =
food to people who otherwise might have a hard time affording it. It's =
very helpful to farmers as well," said Kristine Mossey of McLeod =
Brothers apple growers in Milford, who was recently voted president of =
the New Hampshire Farmers' Market Association. The coupons have a high =
rate of redemption. Farmers' market coupons are also issued to seniors.=20

"I know that a lot of farms and farmers' markets would like to help =
their communities by donating," Mossey said. They might not give market =
leftovers because of timing or storage problems. But there's room to =
create partnerships with local agencies, she said; many Milford area =
farms, for instance, donate to the SHARE program (673-9898).=20

Of course, that most likely won't help with the January and February =
problem.=20

The feds=20
About those food stamps.=20

The NH Food Bank and Second Harvest are both keeping an eye the federal =
Farm Bill. It's a massive piece of legislation that has to be renewed =
every five years and was in conference committee at press time. It =
covers farm subsidies, but the nutrition segment covers the food stamp =
program and other food assistance.=20

In 1994, New Hampshire's record food stamp case load was 24,000 =
families. The current case load is about 26,500 households, or about =
50,000 individuals. The population hasn't increased that much, Smith =
said.

Adjusting the food stamp program could be one way to relieve some of the =
increased demand on soup kitchens and food pantries.=20

"People who would never apply for food stamp benefits before ... are =
finding themselves in a position where they don't have much choice," =
said Terry Smith of DHHS. In the past five years, food prices rose 14.7 =
percent. Housing costs rose 51 percent and childcare 88 percent. Wages =
grew by 4 percent. That leaves much less disposable income for =
low-income and middle-class households, he said.=20

Howland doesn't think food stamps go as far as people need them to go. =
She pointed to Autodesk's recent experience. The Manchester company =
conducts a large annual food drive for New Horizons. Autodesk buys from =
Sam's Club for the drive; they found prices were 20 to 30 percent higher =
for the same items they bought last year, Howland said. Still, they gave =
12,216 pounds of food, slightly more than 2006. New Horizon's soup =
kitchen serves about 200 meals each day, and the food pantry serves =
about 800 households.=20

Smith thinks there are three factors affecting American food prices =
including the international market factors of changes to the Chinese =
economy and the cheapened U.S. dollar. The use of corn for biofuels =
means less U.S. land is being used to produce food or food product or =
livestock feed.=20

Farm Bill proposals include raising minimum food stamp benefits above =
$10 per month or $1 per meal, switching from coupons to electronic =
benefit transfer and expanding access and eligibility. One amendment is =
to reduce or eliminate the five-year wait for legal U.S. immigrants to =
receive food stamps. (There's a waiver for refugees.)

If changes are adopted it could mean $5.3 billion in new spending for =
food stamps and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). In =
northern New England, proposed changes could translate to $5 million in =
new food assistance next year.

Smith said DHHS is trying to automate the food stamp program so any =
child enrolled is automatically eligible for the school lunch program. =
"That helps," Smith said. They promote WIC and Serve New England =
(www.servenewengland.org, 625-5505), in which anyone can trade two hours =
of volunteer service for a 40-percent discounted grocery package.=20

"So we do try to supplement people's food, and food pantries are a major =
component of that," Smith said. But he pointed out that donations to =
food banks are down about 40 percent. "If the place you went to =
supplement your diet has about half the food, you won't be able to =
supplement your diet the way you might need to," Smith said.=20

Surplus commodities are also affected by the Farm Bill. USDA product =
sent to food banks has dropped by 70 percent, according to Second =
Harvest. The USDA buys agricultural products when they need to keep farm =
prices stable, but the amount available has declined by $175 million =
value over the last year for food banks. In Maine, New Hampshire and =
Vermont, commodity donations are at a five-year low.=20

The New Hampshire Food Bank does not receive commodities or any other =
federal or state help, Gosselin said. However, other New Hampshire =
agencies do handle various USDA nutrition programs.=20

DHHS created the first participant rate analysis in the U.S. in 1998 to =
find out how many eligible people were participating in the food stamp =
program. The federal government ran one eight months later. New =
Hampshire's food stamp program won a $1 million high performance bonus =
in 2002 for increasing participation of families with children. ("We've =
come a long way," Smith said.) They discovered eligible seniors =
participate the least, so they seek to enroll them while continuing to =
target families with children, since children need nutrition to develop. =
They place food stamp brochures in Meals on Wheels boxes. DHHS produced =
brochures for agencies to distribute at homeless campsites they find. =
The brochures show what can be bought with food stamps that doesn't =
require a refrigerator or stove.=20

Grow your own
The New Hampshire Food Bank is working on a couple projects to balance =
out the decrease in donated staples.=20

They want to build a kitchen on site to expand their food recovery =
ability and are working on developing an acre garden to grow produce for =
the food bank at the Youth Services Center for juvenile offenders in =
Manchester.=20

"We really need to think outside of the box at this point," Gosselin =
said. "We're just really trying to get creative about it."

Clearly, there are dollar signs attached to the start of new programs, =
but the food shortage is something that the food bank will have to deal =
with for the long term, she said.=20

The kitchen would offer a clean room to break down donations of =
leftovers from catered events or process produce that grocery stores =
have refused. They will offer a culinary training program from the =
kitchen for low-income individuals. An eight-week session through =
Snapchef, Inc., covers knife skills, equipment operation and SERVSAFE =
certification.=20

Gosselin is setting a "lofty goal" of getting the kitchen built and open =
by the end of January 2008. The group is trying to secure funding to =
cover the buildout within the food bank's warehouse, outfit it according =
to Snapchef's needs, and cover the cost of the contract with Snapchef - =
a possible total bill of $500,000. Stonyfield Farm has made the first =
donation - a freezer. "They are a huge supporter," Gosselin said. The =
Food Bank is seeking other equipment donations, and Snapchef is hunting =
for deals.=20

"We really need it centralized," Gosselin said. Using an existing =
kitchen elsewhere would cause logistical problems and add transportation =
costs. But as they grow the program, they hope to launch "food rescue" =
kitchens across the state. Eventually, they hope to increase production =
to the point when they can not only distribute to their agencies but =
also sell what they process to other food banks, creating a revenue =
stream to help sustain the New Hampshire Food Bank.=20

"We're not really in the business of farming ... this is going to be a =
new venture for us," said Michele Garron, food bank operations manager. =
They are working with the USDA and UNH Cooperative Extension.=20

This isn't revolutionary. The Food Bank Farm in Hadley, Mass., sends =
half of its harvest to food banks, and the other half is sold through =
CSA shares - community supported agriculture. You buy a share and =
receive organic produce weekly during the growing season while your =
membership fee helps support the food bank's portion.=20

"We need to run some more soil tests but we're looking at hardy crops" =
for the first year, Garron said. That includes root plants, tomatoes, =
carrots and common vegetables that are easy for people to use. They plan =
to till and start planting in May. In the future, they hope to add crops =
familiar to Manchester's refugee populations and expand acreage at Youth =
Services Center and other state-owned properties.=20

Food bank volunteers and "honors" YSC residents will maintain the =
garden. The produce will also be used for the Food Bank's Operation =
Frontline classes on nutrition and shopping on budgets.=20

Places to give to
Here's some contact information in case you want to give food or money =
to fight hunger. Often, you can donate funds through a secure link on a =
Web site. Organizations also post lists of urgently needed items on =
their sites. This is a very limited list of southern New Hampshire food =
agencies. See nhfoodbank.org for more or ideas or check with your town. =
Many places of worship also run food pantries.

New Hampshire Food Bank

62 West Brook St., Manchester, NH, 03101, 669-9725

Donate money at nhfoodbank.org or see above. Donate food between 8 a.m. =
and 4 p.m. weekdays (closed Dec. 24-Jan.2). If you can't get to the =
warehouse, call to arrange for a food drive pick-up or referral to a =
nearby member agency. [By the way, these folks have some mighty big =
plans in mind to counter the drop in staple food donations, including =
building a kitchen to capture perishables - which they want to =
accomplish by the end of January. So they could use cash - and probably =
some restaurant-grade walk-in fridges, but you'd have to talk to them =
about that.]

The Friendly Kitchen 14 Montgomery St., Concord, 224-7678

Families in Transition 394 Second St., Manchester, 641-6691, =
www.fitnh.org

New Horizons for NH 199 Manchester St., Manchester, 668-1877, =
www.newhorizonsfornh.org

Salvation Army121 Cedar St., Manchester, 627-7013=20

Share Food Pantry 34 Amherst St., Milford, 673-9898=20

Harbor Homes Shelter 45 High St., Nashua, 882-5451=20

Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter 42 Chestnut St., Nashua, 889-7770, =
www.nsks.org=20

Food for Children, Inc. PO Box 4786, Manchester, NH, 03108, =
www.foodfc.org, 792-0110

Standing in line
Food for Children sees 50-percent increase in families at food drop

It was bitter cold out Saturday morning, Dec. 8. Despite what felt like =
freezing temperatures, puddles of slush and water soaked into shoes in =
the JFK Coliseum parking lot in Manchester. People come as early as 6:30 =
a.m., apparently, to wait for a food drop between 10 a.m. and noon. Kids =
climbed snow drifts as Brad Goodnow, via bullhorn, beseeched people in =
line to take more of the soda.=20

The volunteer effort, "Food for Children: God's Love in Action," has =
organized Saturday morning food giveaways for almost 18 years at various =
sites around Manchester. The city's parks and recreation department has =
been good to them, said Goodnow, who started the drop from the trunk of =
his car. Now he just volunteers.=20

The program served about 200 families Dec. 8. The previous week was even =
colder, but 126 families came, Goodnow said. Food for Children serves =
the homeless, needy and working poor who hear about the drop by word of =
mouth.=20

"It's getting tight," Goodnow said about meeting the needs; the program =
is serving about 50 percent more families than last December. Churches =
that normally gave $200 might give $100 now.=20

Food for Children keeps count and keeps line order by handing out =
tickets from a roll. A girl came to get one, and Goodnow asked if she =
wanted to make a donation. She hesitated, so Goodnow quickly moved on to =
handing her a ticket and sending her to the line.=20

Food for Children gives people the opportunity to donate because =
scripture says 10 percent is God's, Goodnow said.=20

The NH Food Bank has been joining Food for Children with a truck at JFK =
about three Saturdays each month for a little less than a year. Run by =
New Hampshire Catholic Charities, the Food Bank brings extra perishables =
it needs to move like yogurt, carrots and onions. Normally, it sells to =
member agencies rather than giving food to clients directly. Originally, =
the Food Bank didn't work with Food for Children because they ask for =
donations, Goodnow said. But donations aren't required, he reiterated. =
People can take whatever they can carry for some items. Others, like =
meat, are rationed to ensure everyone gets something.=20

Churches, individuals, businesses and organizations donate food and =
money. Their two box trucks were donated.=20

Before the Saturday morning drop gets under way, Food for Children =
volunteers ask if anyone wants to accept Jesus into their heart. Then =
they give thanks for the food. They don't push religion beyond that. A =
good number of people they serve are Muslim refugees.=20

The coffee can for donations can end up with about $70 inside, which is =
used for fuel for the box trucks. When volunteers use their own vehicles =
to pick up food, they use their own gas. There are about a dozen =
regulars.

Goodnow estimates that about a quarter of the people in line might not =
need the free food, but he tells volunteers if people don't really need =
the help, well, it's the Lord they are lying to and can take it up with =
Him.=20

Food for Children: God's Love in Action can be reached at 792-0110, =
info@foodfc.org, foodfc.org, or P.O. Box 4786, Manchester, N.H., 03108. =
- Heidi Masek

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<P class=3DMsoNormal><B><SPAN style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><FONT =
size=3D4><A=20
href=3D"http://www.hippopress.com/071220/cover.html">Gift of=20
food</A></FONT></SPAN></B></P><SPAN><FONT size=3D4><FONT =
size=3D2></FONT>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><BR></FONT><FONT size=3D3><STRONG>Fighting hunger =
in New=20
Hampshire </STRONG></FONT></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><FONT size=3D3><STRONG><BR></STRONG></FONT>By Heidi =
Masek <A=20
href=3D"mailto:hmasek@hippopress.com">hmasek@hippopress.com</A></SPAN></P=
>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">On Nov. 30,=20
the New York Times featured New Hampshire=92s food bank in a story about =
food=20
shortages. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The plight=20
of New Hampshire Food Bank caught the attention of musicians Stefan =
Lessard, the=20
bassist from the Dave Matthews Band; Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, =
and Adam=20
Gardner of Guster. They will perform together as Yukon Kornelius in =
Vermont to=20
benefit the New Hampshire and Vermont food banks in January. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">New=20
Hampshire=92s food bank is down about half a million pounds of inventory =
compared=20
to last year, said executive director Melanie Gosselin. Meanwhile, =
she=92s heard=20
from their member agencies that demand is up between 30 and 40 percent. =
The NH=20
Food Bank is a supplier for 352 agencies, including food pantries, soup =
kitchens=20
and day care centers. It distributed 200,000 more pounds of food this =
November=20
than last. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">NHFB has=20
been turning over inventory as soon as it comes in the door. The =
shortage got so=20
bad they started distributing emergency food, draining reserves by about =
half.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Fortunately,=20
gifts and food drives come in at this time of year. The food bank was =
able to=20
meet Thanksgiving requests. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93We are very=20
grateful and thankful that we were able to do that,=94 Gosselin said. =
Now they are=20
gearing up to fill Christmas wish lists. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93We know=20
that the community pulls through for us so we=92re extremely thankful =
for that,=94=20
Gosselin said. She also noted that the governor =93has been extremely =
supportive.=94=20
Gov. Lynch and Senate president Sylvia Larsen toured the Food Bank in=20
October.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93The needs=20
of the food bank are greater than ever. Overall the food bank=92s =
inventory is=20
down 70 percent and this greatly impacts the 95,000 people in the state =
who=20
depend on the food bank for food,=94 Lynch stated in an Oct. 15 release. =
Larsen=20
challenged state employees to hold food and fund drives, and she held =
one at the=20
Statehouse. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The food=20
bank has been able to stop releasing emergency food. It has about 500 =
boxes,=20
each with less than a week=92s worth of food for a family of four; those =
are meant=20
to be used for situations like fires or floods. Gosselin wants to ensure =
reserve=20
is available to react to situations in the North Country following the =
mill=20
closure. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT =
size=3D3>It=92s permanent=20
<BR></FONT></STRONG>A major reason for food bank shortages is the =
decrease in=20
staple product donations from grocery stores. It=92s not a temporary =
drop. Most=20
stores now use sophisticated point-of-sale systems to monitor how much =
is being=20
brought into the store versus what the consumer is buying, said John =
Dumais of=20
the NH Grocers Association. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93No one=92s=20
carrying big inventories any more. Typically we=92ve benefited from =
those=20
overstock situations,=94 Gosselin said.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Grocers=20
operate on less than 1 percent annual net profit, so better inventory =
management=20
is key, Dumais said. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Yet this=20
marks a major change in how the Food Bank will seek supplies.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">If=20
businesses aren=92t overpurchasing, then manufacturers aren=92t =
overmanufacturing,=20
Gosselin pointed out. That means hourly workers might be sent home =
early.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93The cycle=20
just sort of perpetuates itself,=94 Gosselin said. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The New=20
Hampshire Food Bank received 20 percent less inventory this year from =
America=92s=20
Second Harvest, Gosselin said. Second Harvest redistributes donations =
from=20
national food and grocery companies and the USDA to food banks. Overall=20
donations to the national office have been down about 9 percent, =
although they=20
are still distributing about 500,000 pounds of food, said Ross Fraser of =
Second=20
Harvest. Food banks distribute about 2 billion pounds total. The kind of =
foods=20
available change, =93as America changes the way it eats,=94 Fraser said. =
There=92s=20
been a big trend for fresh food. Thirty years ago, he recalls, frozen =
fish=20
sticks were the only kind of fish he saw. People now eat less canned or =
=93staple=94=20
food. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93That=20
presents a lot of challenges for food banks, as it [does] for us,=94 =
Fraser said.=20
Limited refrigeration at food banks is one issue. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">To=20
distribute, Second Harvest tells food banks what=92s available, and the =
food banks=20
bid. Shipping costs are a factor as gas prices rise. Different food =
banks might=20
have different needs, and those in =93food-rich=94 areas of the country =
depend less=20
on Second Harvest. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT size=3D3>Cost =
of living=20
<BR></FONT></STRONG>New Horizons food pantry, soup kitchen and shelter =
in=20
Manchester is one of the Food Bank=92s 18 food pantry members in =
Manchester.=20
Workers are cooking more at the soup kitchen and food pantry lines are=20
=93certainly longer=94 on the four weekly distribution days, said New =
Horizons=20
development director Susan Howland. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Two weeks=20
before Thanksgiving, giving picked up. West and Memorial High School did =
=93huge=94=20
food drives this year =93and really, really filled our shelves for =
us,=94 Howland=20
said.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93Fortunately=20
the holidays inspire a lot of giving,=94 Howland said. As Christmas =
nears, New=20
Horizons will need to find a lot of turkeys. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Howland and=20
others in food assistance worry about January and February. Aside from =
the end=20
of holiday food and fund drives, it gets colder, and heating bills get =
higher.=20
Food expenses went up about 7 percent from last year, Gosselin said. New =

Hampshire imports a lot of food, and food transport costs rise when fuel =
costs=20
rise.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93Our basic=20
ingredients like corn, soy, wheat, those large commodities grown in the =
Midwest,=20
are subsidized, so that helps generally keep prices low in the United =
States,=20
but the cost of fuel has had a counter effect in rising prices more =
recently,=94=20
said Helen Costello, registered dietitian and Nutrition Crossroads =
consultant.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Howland also=20
finds people coming to New Horizons food pantry if someone in their =
family loses=20
a job or is ill. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93It was=20
pretty awful last year, too,=94 said Eileen Brady, a 14-year social =
worker at=20
Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter (NSKS). There are usually three =
catalysts to=20
increased need for food. Housing shortages causing high rent or layoffs =
or high=20
unemployment are two. This year it=92s gas and heating prices. The state =
passed a=20
minimum wage increase this year, but that won=92t go far when gas costs =
a dollar=20
more per gallon, she said. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93I think=20
people are taking extra money they have to pay for fuel ... =
something=92s gotta=20
give,=94 said Robin Peters, who works for UNH Cooperative Extension food =
and=20
nutrition program. Parents she=92s worked with have gone without so kids =
can eat.=20
She sees people go without medication to buy food. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Gosselin=20
hasn=92t heard of any pantries that have had to close. The food bank =
tries to=20
encourage partnerships and pooling of resources between agencies so they =
can=20
help each other. Communication is key in keeping transport costs down =
for the=20
network.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The Food=20
Bank makes drops at different locations throughout the month. Agencies =
can=20
preorder and go to the drop or shop directly at the facility. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93Everybody=92s=20
finances are stretched further today, so it=92s harder and harder to =
have the=20
extra resources to give,=94 Howland said. Gosselin said regular =
contributors have=20
sent notes with donations, saying, =93Sorry, this is all I can do this=20
year.=94</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93We=92re=20
grateful they=92re able to do something,=94 Gosselin said. She realizes =
many donors=20
are one paycheck away from needing assistance themselves, she said. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The Food=20
Bank shortage affected New Horizons, but the bank appealed to the =
community to=20
keep shelves full. =93They always have come to our rescue,=94 New =
Horizons=92 Howland=20
said. In Nashua, NSKS workers post lists of items they need on their Web =
site=20
and try to keep in the public eye so people remember they are there, =
Brady said.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT =
size=3D3>Front=20
line<BR></FONT></STRONG>Places like New Horizons and the Nashua Soup =
Kitchen and=20
Shelter have two ways to counter shortages which food banks or pantries =
that=20
open a few hours per week don=92t have. New Horizons and NSKS can =
distribute=20
perishables quickly and accept food almost any time. Since New Horizons =
has a=20
shelter, it can essentially receive donations 24 hours per day. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93That=92s been=20
our policy for many years now,=94 Howland said. NSKS is open all day and =
people=20
have tracked down their shelter at night to drop food. Because they have =

kitchens and serve meals daily, they can make use of food with a short =
shelf=20
life and leftovers from catered events, birthday parties or funerals.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Extreme=20
Makeover Home Edition sent truckloads of food to NSKS during their =
Manchester=20
shoot in October because much more was donated than the show needed, =
Brady said.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Farms and=20
grocery stores like Hannaford send produce to NSKS. NSKS serves 100 =
families per=20
day through the food pantry and 250 meals per day. They feed 30 shelter =
guests,=20
too. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93It=92s a=20
great amount of food that moves in the course of the week,=94 Brady =
said.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Brady said=20
it=92s items like canned goods that have decreased from grocery store =
donations.=20
Fresh food inventory still has many variables. There=92s so much =
competition=20
between supermarkets that it=92s also hard for businesses to guess where =
people=20
will shop when, Brady said. Stores are likely to donate overstocked =
seasonal=20
items like egg nog or pumpkin pie filling before the shelf life ends, =
Dumais=20
said. Bakery, dairy or meat can be donated if it=92s taken from the =
shelves before=20
it starts to spoil, he said. A store might stock up on barbecue fixings =
for a=20
summer weekend and then donate unsold perishables if it rains, Dumais =
said.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Ironically,=20
when produce prices get too high because of some crop crisis like an =
orange tree=20
frost, NSKS can end up with a glut. They had plenty of tomatoes when =
costs=20
skyrocketed =97 =93I figured it was the price,=94 Brady said. Consumers =
might do=20
without the ingredient rather than pay extra, Dumais said, and they also =
pass=20
over items that don=92t look perfect. Grocery stores used to keep =
products longer;=20
now =93everybody=92s looking for the freshest available,=94 Dumais said. =
=93We have a=20
luxury in this country today of quick transportation across the =
country,=94 he=20
said. Something can be picked in California and be on the East Coast in =
a couple=20
days, and people are used to that. So less-than-perfect peppers can end =
up at=20
the soup kitchen.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Another=20
culture change is consumers=92 tight schedules. Now in-store chefs =
prepare=20
take-home meals, Dumais said. The food bank is developing a new program =
to=20
recover those leftovers, called Food Rescue, Dumais said. He=92s the =
food bank=92s=20
advisory board chair. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The New=20
Hampshire Grocers Association is in =93constant contact=94 with the New =
Hampshire=20
Food Bank, Dumais said. Major wholesalers support the food bank. =
Associated=20
Grocers of New England donated 1,000 pounds of turkey for Thanksgiving =
so the=20
food bank could meet needs. The Good Samaritan Law protects companies so =
they=20
aren=92t liable if they believe food they donate is safe; there can be =
some tax=20
benefits to donating extra products, in addition to decreasing dumpster =
fees.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">One of the=20
other factors causing the shortage of staples is that discounters like =
dollar=20
stores are buying up salvage. If a vendor drops a case of canned peas =
and a few=20
are dented, the store can return them for credit or donate them. =
Returned=20
products can end up on the =93secondary=94 retail market, Dumais said. =
NHGA=20
recommends donating. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Several area=20
farms send surplus to NSKS, as do home gardeners (lots of zucchini). Of =
course,=20
that=92s not as helpful in the winter, and summer weather affects crops. =

</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93People are=20
exceedingly generous,=94 Brady said of the greater Nashua community. =
Volunteers=20
pick up leftovers from stores, which is even more generous as gas prices =
rise.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">NSKS doesn=92t=20
have room to warehouse food, but there=92s a big turnover, and they =
share=20
inventory with pantries that are only open a few hours per week. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT size=3D3>Mac =
and cheese=20
<BR></FONT></STRONG>The availability of fresh vegetables and fruit draws =
people=20
to the NSKS pantry, especially diabetics and people concerned about =
their=20
children=92s health. Produce is =93so expensive=94 in the stores, Brady =
said. NSKS had=20
bags of apples to give out last week, equivalent to $3 or $4, Brady =
said. Food=20
stamps don=92t get you far if you want to use them for fruits and =
vegetables, she=20
said.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">There needs=20
to be more awareness of the locations and hours of food pantries and =
soup=20
kitchens to supplement what people can buy with income and food stamps, =
said=20
Peters, who is based in Plymouth. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Food stamps=20
are designed to be supplemented with discretionary income, said Valerie =
Long, a=20
nutritionist from the UNH Cooperative Extension. Yet the reality is that =
many=20
families using food stamps don=92t have enough discretionary income to =
do that.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93It=92s a very=20
difficult situation because we can see the increase in cost of food and =
limit of=20
food availability at food pantries at shelters,=94 Long said. People are =
buying=20
food that is less expensive but also less nutritious. Diets might be =
higher in=20
carbohydrates. Boxed macaroni and cheese and noodle soup are cheap, but =
they are=20
high in carbohydrates, sodium and sugars and can make a big impact on a =
person=92s=20
nutrition =97 and people develop a taste for those ingredients. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Peters asks=20
that people be =93cognizant=94 of what they donate. Although there=92s a =
shortage of=20
canned goods, people are sometimes just cleaning out their cupboards =
when they=20
send food to pantries. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93Think about=20
what your family would eat,=94 she said. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">It=92s=20
important to find ways to connect locally produced food with low- or=20
limited-income families in need of food, and there is more opportunity =
to do=20
that, said Nutrition Crossroads=92 Costello. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Nesenkeag=20
Cooperative Farm in Litchfield grows organic =93first quality=94 for the =
NH Food=20
Bank through a grant from Share Our Strength. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">WIC issues=20
coupons to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers=92 markets. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93That has=20
been a very successful program. It helps bring fresh local food to =
people who=20
otherwise might have a hard time affording it. It=92s very helpful to =
farmers as=20
well,=94 said Kristine Mossey of McLeod Brothers apple growers in =
Milford, who was=20
recently voted president of the New Hampshire Farmers=92 Market =
Association. The=20
coupons have a high rate of redemption. Farmers=92 market coupons are =
also issued=20
to seniors. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93I know that=20
a lot of farms and farmers=92 markets would like to help their =
communities by=20
donating,=94 Mossey said. They might not give market leftovers because =
of timing=20
or storage problems. But there=92s room to create partnerships with =
local=20
agencies, she said; many Milford area farms, for instance, donate to the =
SHARE=20
program (673-9898). </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Of course,=20
that most likely won=92t help with the January and February problem. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT size=3D3>The =
feds=20
<BR></FONT></STRONG><FONT size=3D3>About those food stamps. =
</FONT></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The NH Food=20
Bank and Second Harvest are both keeping an eye the federal Farm Bill. =
It=92s a=20
massive piece of legislation that has to be renewed every five years and =
was in=20
conference committee at press time. It covers farm subsidies, but the =
nutrition=20
segment covers the food stamp program and other food assistance. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">In 1994, New=20
Hampshire=92s record food stamp case load was 24,000 families. The =
current case=20
load is about 26,500 households, or about 50,000 individuals. The =
population=20
hasn=92t increased that much, Smith said.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Adjusting=20
the food stamp program could be one way to relieve some of the increased =
demand=20
on soup kitchens and food pantries. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93People who=20
would never apply for food stamp benefits before ... are finding =
themselves in a=20
position where they don=92t have much choice,=94 said Terry Smith of =
DHHS. In the=20
past five years, food prices rose 14.7 percent. Housing costs rose 51 =
percent=20
and childcare 88 percent. Wages grew by 4 percent. That leaves much less =

disposable income for low-income and middle-class households, he said.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Howland=20
doesn=92t think food stamps go as far as people need them to go. She =
pointed to=20
Autodesk=92s recent experience. The Manchester company conducts a large =
annual=20
food drive for New Horizons. Autodesk buys from Sam=92s Club for the =
drive; they=20
found prices were 20 to 30 percent higher for the same items they bought =
last=20
year, Howland said. Still, they gave 12,216 pounds of food, slightly =
more than=20
2006. New Horizon=92s soup kitchen serves about 200 meals each day, and =
the food=20
pantry serves about 800 households. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Smith thinks=20
there are three factors affecting American food prices including the=20
international market factors of changes to the Chinese economy and the =
cheapened=20
U.S. dollar. The use of corn for biofuels means less U.S. land is being =
used to=20
produce food or food product or livestock feed. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Farm Bill=20
proposals include raising minimum food stamp benefits above $10 per =
month or $1=20
per meal, switching from coupons to electronic benefit transfer and =
expanding=20
access and eligibility. One amendment is to reduce or eliminate the =
five-year=20
wait for legal U.S. immigrants to receive food stamps. (There=92s a =
waiver for=20
refugees.)</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">If changes=20
are adopted it could mean $5.3 billion in new spending for food stamps =
and The=20
Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). In northern New England, =
proposed=20
changes could translate to $5 million in new food assistance next=20
year.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Smith said=20
DHHS is trying to automate the food stamp program so any child enrolled =
is=20
automatically eligible for the school lunch program. =93That helps,=94 =
Smith said.=20
They promote WIC and Serve New England (www.servenewengland.org, =
625-5505), in=20
which anyone can trade two hours of volunteer service for a 40-percent=20
discounted grocery package. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93So we do=20
try to supplement people=92s food, and food pantries are a major =
component of=20
that,=94 Smith said. But he pointed out that donations to food banks are =
down=20
about 40 percent. =93If the place you went to supplement your diet has =
about half=20
the food, you won=92t be able to supplement your diet the way you might =
need to,=94=20
Smith said. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Surplus=20
commodities are also affected by the Farm Bill. USDA product sent to =
food banks=20
has dropped by 70 percent, according to Second Harvest. The USDA buys=20
agricultural products when they need to keep farm prices stable, but the =
amount=20
available has declined by $175 million value over the last year for food =
banks.=20
In Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, commodity donations are at a =
five-year low.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The New=20
Hampshire Food Bank does not receive commodities or any other federal or =
state=20
help, Gosselin said. However, other New Hampshire agencies do handle =
various=20
USDA nutrition programs. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">DHHS created=20
the first participant rate analysis in the U.S. in 1998 to find out how =
many=20
eligible people were participating in the food stamp program. The =
federal=20
government ran one eight months later. New Hampshire=92s food stamp =
program won a=20
$1 million high performance bonus in 2002 for increasing participation =
of=20
families with children. (=93We=92ve come a long way,=94 Smith said.) =
They discovered=20
eligible seniors participate the least, so they seek to enroll them =
while=20
continuing to target families with children, since children need =
nutrition to=20
develop. They place food stamp brochures in Meals on Wheels boxes. DHHS =
produced=20
brochures for agencies to distribute at homeless campsites they find. =
The=20
brochures show what can be bought with food stamps that doesn=92t =
require a=20
refrigerator or stove. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT size=3D3>Grow =
your=20
own<BR></FONT></STRONG>The New Hampshire Food Bank is working on a =
couple=20
projects to balance out the decrease in donated staples. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">They want to=20
build a kitchen on site to expand their food recovery ability and are =
working on=20
developing an acre garden to grow produce for the food bank at the Youth =

Services Center for juvenile offenders in Manchester. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93We really=20
need to think outside of the box at this point,=94 Gosselin said. =
=93We=92re just=20
really trying to get creative about it.=94</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Clearly,=20
there are dollar signs attached to the start of new programs, but the =
food=20
shortage is something that the food bank will have to deal with for the =
long=20
term, she said. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The kitchen=20
would offer a clean room to break down donations of leftovers from =
catered=20
events or process produce that grocery stores have refused. They will =
offer a=20
culinary training program from the kitchen for low-income individuals. =
An=20
eight-week session through Snapchef, Inc., covers knife skills, =
equipment=20
operation and SERVSAFE certification. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Gosselin is=20
setting a =93lofty goal=94 of getting the kitchen built and open by the =
end of=20
January 2008. The group is trying to secure funding to cover the =
buildout within=20
the food bank=92s warehouse, outfit it according to Snapchef=92s needs, =
and cover=20
the cost of the contract with Snapchef =97 a possible total bill of =
$500,000.=20
Stonyfield Farm has made the first donation =97 a freezer. =93They are a =
huge=20
supporter,=94 Gosselin said. The Food Bank is seeking other equipment =
donations,=20
and Snapchef is hunting for deals. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93We really=20
need it centralized,=94 Gosselin said. Using an existing kitchen =
elsewhere would=20
cause logistical problems and add transportation costs. But as they grow =
the=20
program, they hope to launch =93food rescue=94 kitchens across the =
state.=20
Eventually, they hope to increase production to the point when they can =
not only=20
distribute to their agencies but also sell what they process to other =
food=20
banks, creating a revenue stream to help sustain the New Hampshire Food =
Bank.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93We=92re not=20
really in the business of farming ... this is going to be a new venture =
for us,=94=20
said Michele Garron, food bank operations manager. They are working with =
the=20
USDA and UNH Cooperative Extension. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">This isn=92t=20
revolutionary. The Food Bank Farm in Hadley, Mass., sends half of its =
harvest to=20
food banks, and the other half is sold through CSA shares =97 community =
supported=20
agriculture. You buy a share and receive organic produce weekly during =
the=20
growing season while your membership fee helps support the food bank=92s =
portion.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93We need to=20
run some more soil tests but we=92re looking at hardy crops=94 for the =
first year,=20
Garron said. That includes root plants, tomatoes, carrots and common =
vegetables=20
that are easy for people to use. They plan to till and start planting in =
May. In=20
the future, they hope to add crops familiar to Manchester=92s refugee =
populations=20
and expand acreage at Youth Services Center and other state-owned =
properties.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Food bank=20
volunteers and =93honors=94 YSC residents will maintain the garden. The =
produce will=20
also be used for the Food Bank=92s Operation Frontline classes on =
nutrition and=20
shopping on budgets. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT =
size=3D3>Places to give=20
to<BR></FONT></STRONG>Here=92s some contact information in case you want =
to give=20
food or money to fight hunger. Often, you can donate funds through a =
secure link=20
on a Web site. Organizations also post lists of urgently needed items on =
their=20
sites. This is a very limited list of southern New Hampshire food =
agencies. See=20
nhfoodbank.org for more or ideas or check with your town. Many places of =
worship=20
also run food pantries.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">New=20
Hampshire Food Bank</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">62 West=20
Brook St., Manchester, NH, 03101, 669-9725</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Donate money=20
at nhfoodbank.org or see above. Donate food between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. =
weekdays=20
(closed Dec. 24-Jan.2). If you can=92t get to the warehouse, call to =
arrange for a=20
food drive pick-up or referral to a nearby member agency. [By the way, =
these=20
folks have some mighty big plans in mind to counter the drop in staple =
food=20
donations, including building a kitchen to capture perishables =97 which =
they want=20
to accomplish by the end of January. So they could use cash =97 and =
probably some=20
restaurant-grade walk-in fridges, but you=92d have to talk to them about =

that.]</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The Friendly=20
Kitchen 14 Montgomery St., Concord, 224-7678</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Families in=20
Transition 394 Second St., Manchester, 641-6691, <A=20
href=3D"http://www.fitnh.org/">www.fitnh.org</A></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">New Horizons=20
for&nbsp;NH 199 Manchester St., Manchester, 668-1877, <A=20
href=3D"http://www.newhorizonsfornh.org/">www.newhorizonsfornh.org</A></S=
PAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Salvation=20
Army121&nbsp;Cedar St., Manchester, 627-7013 </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Share Food=20
Pantry 34 Amherst St., Milford, 673-9898 </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Harbor Homes=20
Shelter 45 High St., Nashua, 882-5451 </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Nashua Soup=20
Kitchen and Shelter 42 Chestnut St., Nashua, 889-7770, <A=20
href=3D"http://www.nsks.org/">www.nsks.org</A> </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Food for=20
Children, Inc. PO Box 4786, Manchester, NH, 03108, <A=20
href=3D"http://www.foodfc.org/">www.foodfc.org</A>, 792-0110</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><STRONG><FONT =
size=3D3>Standing in=20
line<BR></FONT></STRONG>Food for Children sees 50-percent increase in =
families=20
at food drop</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">It was=20
bitter cold out Saturday morning, Dec. 8. Despite what felt like =
freezing=20
temperatures, puddles of slush and water soaked into shoes in the JFK =
Coliseum=20
parking lot in Manchester. People come as early as 6:30 a.m., =
apparently, to=20
wait for a food drop between 10 a.m. and noon. Kids climbed snow drifts =
as Brad=20
Goodnow, via bullhorn, beseeched people in line to take more of the =
soda.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The=20
volunteer effort, =93Food for Children: God=92s Love in Action,=94 has =
organized=20
Saturday morning food giveaways for almost 18 years at various sites =
around=20
Manchester. The city=92s parks and recreation department has been good =
to them,=20
said Goodnow, who started the drop from the trunk of his car. Now he =
just=20
volunteers. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The program=20
served about 200 families Dec. 8. The previous week was even colder, but =
126=20
families came, Goodnow said. Food for Children serves the homeless, =
needy and=20
working poor who hear about the drop by word of mouth. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">=93It=92s=20
getting tight,=94 Goodnow said about meeting the needs; the program is =
serving=20
about 50 percent more families than last December. Churches that =
normally gave=20
$200 might give $100 now. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Food for=20
Children keeps count and keeps line order by handing out tickets from a =
roll. A=20
girl came to get one, and Goodnow asked if she wanted to make a =
donation. She=20
hesitated, so Goodnow quickly moved on to handing her a ticket and =
sending her=20
to the line. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Food for=20
Children gives people the opportunity to donate because scripture says =
10=20
percent is God=92s, Goodnow said. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The NH Food=20
Bank has been joining Food for Children with a truck at JFK about three=20
Saturdays each month for a little less than a year. Run by New Hampshire =

Catholic Charities, the Food Bank brings extra perishables it needs to =
move like=20
yogurt, carrots and onions. Normally, it sells to member agencies rather =
than=20
giving food to clients directly. Originally, the Food Bank didn=92t work =
with Food=20
for Children because they ask for donations, Goodnow said. But donations =
aren=92t=20
required, he reiterated. People can take whatever they can carry for =
some items.=20
Others, like meat, are rationed to ensure everyone gets something. =
</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Churches,=20
individuals, businesses and organizations donate food and money. Their =
two box=20
trucks were donated. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Before the=20
Saturday morning drop gets under way, Food for Children volunteers ask =
if anyone=20
wants to accept Jesus into their heart. Then they give thanks for the =
food. They=20
don=92t push religion beyond that. A good number of people they serve =
are Muslim=20
refugees. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">The coffee=20
can for donations can end up with about $70 inside, which is used for =
fuel for=20
the box trucks. When volunteers use their own vehicles to pick up food, =
they use=20
their own gas. There are about a dozen regulars.</SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Goodnow=20
estimates that about a quarter of the people in line might not need the =
free=20
food, but he tells volunteers if people don=92t really need the help, =
well, it=92s=20
the Lord they are lying to and can take it up with Him. </SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9pt; FONT-FAMILY: =
Arial">Food for=20
Children: God=92s Love in Action can be reached at 792-0110, <A=20
href=3D"mailto:info@foodfc.org">info@foodfc.org</A>, <A=20
href=3D"http://www.foodfc.org/">foodfc.org</A>, or P.O. Box 4786, =
Manchester,=20
N.H., 03108. =97 <EM>Heidi Masek</EM></SPAN></P></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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