Food pantries effected by gas prices

May 29, 2008 5:08:37 PM PDT
Gas prices are now impacting the cost of food. It's more expensive to shop for groceries, and it's more expensive to move food -- even for those trying to give it away. Mix food inflation with a construction slow down and you have food pantries under stress. The soup kitchen is jammed with people struggling to feed themselves. Now the kitchen is struggling to keep food in stock. "Without this place, there'd be a lot of people going hungry," Raleigh resident Tammy Gregory said. "And it seems there are a lot more and more coming." More hungry and out of work residents are showing up. This week, The Shepherd's Table in downtown Raleigh set a record for 343 lunches served in a day. "It seems like the lines are getting longer," Rose said. The numbers of hungry in need of help are up 20 percent from last year. Rose is a regular at the kitchen and says the construction slow down has really hurt. "The day labor services, they pay $6.30/hour," Rose said. "They charge you $5/day just because of the gas prices just to get you to the job and back. After you walk out the door, you have $42 in your pocket. That's 8 hours of work." Tammy Gregory, who runs The Shepherd's Table, says attendance is up with the price of gas. And high priced fuel is hurting food deliveries and donations. "This time last year, gas was approximately $2.88/gallon," Gregory said. "We're at an average of $3.91 right now. If we increase much more, not only will our numbers increase, but our rescue food will drop." Two week ago, Charlie Griffith came to Raleigh from Wilmington in search of a constriction job. So far, he's only found part-time work. "Sometimes it's very frustrating, you know," Griffith said. "But people have to eat, you know? What can I say? I'm trying as hard as I can to make it every day." The pantry's food supply is now day to day. The menu now includes a warning. "We really can't be forgotten," Gregory said. We need people right now more than ever. And if gas continues to go up, we're going to be in a scary situation." She says The Shepherd's Table serves some Raleigh city workers and people laid off from jobs at the Research Triangle Park. Food pantries are also concerned because gas prices are projected to continue to rise this summer. And it's the summertime when food donations are usually the slowest.

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