Help! Food bank shelves are empty

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Kelly Chadderdon works on stocking food items in the walk-in cooler Wednesday at Community Action Partnership in Coeur d’Alene. The shelves of the food bank, normally full, are barren due to lack of donations and increased need in the area.

COEUR d'ALENE - The Food Bank at the Community Action Partnership in Coeur d'Alene is low on food and seeks donations.

"It's been worse than it's been in my time being here," said food bank program manager Carolyn Shewfelt, who started with the agency in 2009. She said the nonprofit is currently serving more people with fewer supplies than it did last year.

The food bank program serves more than 6,200 families, more than 20,000 individuals in Kootenai County Shewfelt said. Shewfelt said many people who once donated are now recipients because they lost their jobs.

The food bank relies on two major food drives annually for its supplies, Shewfelt said - one through the United States Postal Service in May, and one through the Boy Scouts in November.

Shewfelt said the May 2013 drive yielded 32,000 pounds of the non-perishable food supplies that the food bank distributes, but this year only it netted a bit more than 9,000 pounds.

"We went through that food in a month," Shewfelt said.

The program distributes food through three programs, Shewfelt said - an emergency food box that is available up to three times per year, a weekly market where people can get perishable food, and a Thanksgiving box program.

Shewfelt said there is an urgent need for shelf-stable items, for the 75 to 100 emergency boxes the bank distributes each day.

The program has about 60 volunteers who pack the boxes, stock shelves, and sort food. More volunteers are needed for the program that operates Monday through Friday.

The program would also welcome donation checks designated for the food bank, Shewfelt said.

The program collects perishable items from area retailers on a daily basis but the need remains for canned and other non-perishable food items, Shewfelt said. About 20 percent of the agency's clients are senior citizens, she said. About 52 percent of the clients are younger than 18.

Donors can drop off items from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 4144 W. Industrial Loop, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815.

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