YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Second Harvest Food Bank serves needy families in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties. We’ve learned and know that the need has grown. But the new need is something we’ve never seen before. On Wednesday, the food bank’s director gave us a look.
Second Harvest can stock 1.3 million pounds of food, but it’s holding only 20 percent capacity.
“We’ve been having to buy 166 percent more food this year than last year, simply because of the shortage here [from the USDA items,]” said Second Harvest executive director Mike Iberis.
Second Harvest has bought $451,417 worth of food this year and expects to cross $1 million this year.
Inflation is a problem. A case of mashed potatoes used to be $27. Now, it’s $52.
Another problem has been the USDA canceling 17 loads of food, while Second Harvest has a 30 percent increase in the requests for food. Its partners will start seeing the pinch.
“So that when they’re looking to place an order at the food bank, there’s less options. There’s less things that they can choose from and the quantities are less,” Iberis said.
Iberis and the 11 other Ohio food banks have written the governor asking for more money. The food bank network across the nation has written the USDA secretary asking, where’s the surplus food?
“I don’t believe anyone has the answer as to when and how it’s going to correct but I know we need to work on it. Now. We’re committed to make sure that this food bank stays open and we are searching for more food to get in,” Iberis said.
Second Harvest received 50,000 pounds of fresh potatoes on Tuesday and has been putting them in 10-pound bags. It also received 5,000 cases of garbanzo beans and has half of them left.
It will keep filling over 13,000 requests for food each week.
“In my opinion, we will get past this and we will, we will get back to where we need to be, to be able to feed the people of the Mahoning Valley because that’s not going to go away,” Iberis said.
So what can you do? Donations do help. Second Harvest can use the money to buy food that is available instead of having to wait for USDA food or even from Ohio farmers.