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Morning it's actually with another Hampton Roads perspective and this morning I'm here at Karen joiner from that Virginia peninsula food bank how are you today Keren I'm great and I'm very happy to be here thank you for coming in today so what exactly is your role with the fridge Anya peninsula food bank I'm the chief executive officer there okay and what kind of duties do you have what are your tasks well I'm overall responsible for all the operations and everything that happens at the food bank so okay I guess everything falls on my shoulders what is the mission of the Virginia peninsula food bank well most people just think we give out food but our mission statement is a little more complicated than that our technical mission statement is to distribute food in an efficient manner through collaborative efforts that minimize hunger promote nutrition and encourage self reliance through education and all of our programs can point directly back to those different phrases within our mission statement how long have you been in existence we've been in existence for thirty two years since nineteen eighty six now and now I know it's there for junior peninsula food bank so what areas do you serve specifically we serve the cities and counties of Hampton Newport news poco St Gloucester Mathews county James city county York County the city of Williamsburg and Surry county and you are the people that you serve well it could be anybody I think most people have an image in their heads about who are hungry or who needs food in an emergency situation but really everybody goes through a season of their lives when they need a little help and so there are all kinds of faces of hunger and it's not just the unemployed we serve children families veterans and the working poor people who are living paycheck to paycheck and and they just don't have enough to pay off all their bills and also buy food and a lot of seniors as well what are some of the programs that you operate to get food out into the community for these people well we have many programs our biggest program is our agency distribution program about eighty percent of all the food that goes out through the food bank goes out through our partner agencies these are community based organizations such as church food pantries okay soup kitchens domestic abuse shelters homeless shelters organizations that want to do good in their community in their neighborhood and we work with about a hundred and fifty of those type of organizations for us most of them are church food pantries but there are some of those other types sprinkled in and we could not get the food out all the way up and across the greater Virginia peninsula without the help of our partner agencies so about eighty percent of the food goes out that way but we operate several other important programs for instance when we don't have a partner agency in a particular area or when our partner agencies cannot keep up with the demand we send truck loads of food out to specific areas in our community and we call it our mobile pantry program it's a direct program of the food bank so it's our truck going out we set up tables we use volunteers we unload the truck and then the volunteers helped distribute food directly from the food bank truck and we do that twenty eight times a month in areas places such as Williamsburg house of mercy or Hampton Baptist church the VA Medical Center in Hampton and just various places where either our partner agencies can't keep up with demand or we need to do more in those areas over in Surrey for instance co St so those are two of our biggest programs but we also operate to child nutrition program one a lot of people might be familiar with but they might not know that it it runs through the Virginia pencil food bank that is the backpack program for kids over the weekends there are a lot of children in our community that often go home and don't eat well at least not nutritionally or not at all because during the week when they're in school they're getting their free or reduced price breakfast and lunch and so over the weekend there's just not the same quality or quantity of food so we operate a program where we distribute bags of nutritionally balanced food it's canned goods so that is non perishable and now we distribute fifteen hundred of those back bags every week during the school year and six hundred during that per week during the summer and that so that they do have food over the weekend when they're not in our other child nutrition program is called kids cafe and that's where children go to an after school program so they're in a safe environment they're getting help with their homework and we provide the hot nutritionally balanced meals for them to eat while they're there we do this because we operate a culinary training program at our food bank it's a rare program for food banks is only about twenty six of these programs operating around the country in food banks and there's two hundred food banks around the country and we invite economically disadvantaged adults to apply to come into this program and it's not just the cooking class it's totally not that it's it's a way for them to improve their well being and become gainfully employed by the end in the morning there in our commercial kitchen at the food bank preparing the meals for the kids cafe program and in the afternoon they go into a classroom setting where they're learning life skills center the volunteers who has like leadership time management conflict resolution resume writing interviewing skills things like that okay and then throughout the twelve week program they're learning food safety because that very very important at food bank we can't afford for somebody to get sick from some of the any of the food that we distribute so at the end of the twelve week program when they graduate we help them find a job and we hope that then they're going to be self sustaining so this is our way of not giving a hand out like giving a hand up we're quite proud of that program and we operate a few smaller programs as well but kids cafe backpack culinary training program agency distribution program and our mobile pantry are our biggest programs now with all of these programs how much would you think you distribute annually well last year we distributed over twelve million pounds of food that seem mobile at about ten point one million meals however because we lost our third biggest donor wind farm fresh clothes we're having to pull back this year right now our shelves are pretty empty the shelves where our partner agencies come to get food to take back into the community they're pretty bare right now and we've had to pull back and in our strategic planning for this year rather than growing like we always have we are only for casting that we're gonna be able to distribute about nine point seven million meals compared to ten point one last year it's just it's tough to find another food or get enough money to purchase the million it was a million pounds of food that farm fresh was donating to us how many people do you serve annually the statistics say that there are about seventy three thousand individuals all on the crater Virginia peninsula that our food and secure which means they don't know where their next meal is coming from but those people are what I consider chronically food and secure they are gonna always need a little bit of help there's another seventy or eighty thousand people that we serve that are what I call episodically food in secure and that means that they just need a little help every now and then as the stands you ride like maybe they had their car break down and they didn't have any savings or they had a medical bill that they weren't prepared for a lot of people are working but they don't have any savings and they're just living paycheck to paycheck so are the last to to sticks that we had overall said that we served over a hundred fifty thousand and I don't feel based on what I've seen in the last couple years that that number has gone down at all where do you get your food most of our food comes through the generosity of our retail donors okay food lion is our top donor there so many locations of food lion and every location donates to us Walmart and Sam's club is our number two don't you still have some big partners that I'll ask I mean we have to bring in that twelve last year twelve million pounds of food some of which we had to purchase because we don't get enough of it but Walmart and Sam's number two farm fresh was number three but now Smithfield foods is number three because they were number four yeah and then almost every grocery store chain is a very good the owner of the Virginia pencil food bank Kroger is a very supportive donor they only had one location up until this summer and I think now they're popping up right this morning is their grand opening of I think their fourth location for and they converted three farm fresh as yeah the one in ten year I live okay yeah I know you taking donations for food but what about money can people donate money instead of food absolutely as a matter of fact we can do more with monetary donations than we can by having somebody you know calming give us a bag of food we love all our donors we love anybody who wants to give us a bag of food but for a dollar or we can generally get the equivalent of about eight dollars worth of food because we have a lot of buying power we utilize volunteer labor so we don't have a lot of staffing costs or we're able to keep those down we get a lot of donations in often will get truckloads of donations but all we have to do is pay for the freight so that's the way we're able to stretch a dollar so somebody gives us a dollar we may be able to distribute as much as for meals for that dollar so money goes a long way when it comes to the Virginia peninsula food bank now the economy is good right now so why would you say there is a need for food assistance well the economy is looking very good but in general the people that we serve haven't been touched by the the good economy there at the lower end of the economic charts and let's say and so all the great ways that the economy have has improved doesn't necessarily reach them these are individuals who are living paycheck to paycheck for more they're seniors who were making decisions between paying for their medicine org buying food so it's not the people who are getting the tax breaks and and all the wonderful parts of the of the booming economy a lot of them again are working but they're making minimum wage or they're not making enough to make ends meet after they pay their rent and things like that now a lot of people assume that the holiday season is the busiest time for food distribution is that correct we do distribute allot more food in November than most months because everybody thinks of the heating Seattle Allah the eating season extra okay so Turkey yeah get distributed and people want to have a nice meal with their family and friends so a lot of food does go out in November and to a lesser extent December but when you think about it people are hungry all year round because and not just November December exactly you and I go grocery shopping you know maybe as much as every week and people have to eat all year round and one of the most difficult parts is during the summer when the kids are out of school and sometimes grocery bills double or triple if you have teenagers yeah so the summertime is really pretty difficult for us at the food bank and and we see how the inventory of food starts going down and down and down and down when we go through the summer because they're such a great need and fewer people are doing food drives for us at that time it's great to give during the holiday season and what other say you guys think about us during spring and summer it's what exactly so so right now we're at our lowest point in inventory I mean that means we we don't have any food on our agency shopping floor because the food that we have had to sustain us through the summer and into the fall and now we hope that it's gonna be going back up and then over the next six weeks maybe two months hopefully world will get enough that will be able to sustain another couple of months so there's another need to fill up our warehouse do you guys receive funding from the government the only funding we receive from the government is a reimbursement for those kids cafe meals that we prepare we participate in a program called the child an adult food program see a C. F. P. if anybody's familiar with that during the school year so those meals are reimbursed and then during the summer we participate in the summer feeding program also very similar to that so we get reimbursed for those meals but the only other government funding that we receive is the city of Newport news and the city of Hampton and a little bit from James city county as far as government grants they get a little money each year where the faces of hunger that you Sir if you don't know who the faces of.

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