September 7, 2008

As millions of Gulf Coast residents begin returning home, following Hurricane Gustav, damage from Tropical Storm Hanna is being assessed, and Feeding America (formerly named America's Second Harvest) is making plans to respond to two additional storms, Ike and Josephine with supplies of emergency food and water.

Significantly more help will be needed to meet the needs of everyone who has been or may be affected by these four storms. Feeding America is seeking at least $1 million in contributions to help fund these efforts. The dollars needed are expected to go much higher as the hurricane season progresses.

Feeding America has dispatched more than 85 truckloads of food and water throughout the Southeast to assist in relief efforts for these four storms. These provisions will supplement the millions of pounds of food, water and supplies that have already been pre-staged in these areas at Feeding America food banks. At least 32 members of the Feeding America network are involved the current relief efforts.

"We need every American to help us supply emergency food to the thousands of Americans whose lives are being turned upside down by these storms. Only $1 donated to Feeding America will help us provide $30 worth of food and groceries, so every dollar counts," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America."We're here to help long after these storms will have faded from the headlines."

Feeding America has already provided meals, water and other supplies to thousands of evacuees and disaster relief workers in the wake of Hurricane Gustav. Complicating matters is the high state of food insecurity and poverty in the states slammed by the Hurricane Gustav. Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the country. Both states have high rates of food insecurity – meaning that parents, many of whom are the working poor, often have difficulty providing their children with adequate amounts of nutritious food.

The added strain of dealing with disaster relief only places these families into a greater tailspin, draining their energy and stealing their hope.
The storms will leave significant numbers of people without power. They will return to homes without power, and to refrigerators full of spoiled food. Many will be unable to cook and will need to have access to food that requires minimal preparation. Many local grocery stores are not yet fully operational.

The Feeding America network has been active throughout this hurricane season, responding to Hurricanes Dolly and Fay earlier this year. In 2005, Feeding America launched an enormous effort after Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita battered the Gulf Coast. More than 6.5 million people sought emergency food assistance from the Feeding America network; more than 4 million of those individuals had to rely on a food bank for the first time.

"Exploding demand caused by the slumping economy and record-high food and fuel costs is straining many of our food banks. In the past, Feeding America had larger reserves of food to rush to people in need during times of disaster, but with rising food and fuel costs, our food banks are seeing double-digit increases in families seeking help, even before the storms," said Escarra,"Meeting their need has left us with fewer resources to provide to those affected by the current and coming storms."

The Feeding America network supports disaster relief and recovery in communities by distributing assistance through the more than 63,000 local agencies that it supports on a daily basis. Feeding America also provides immediate relief through emergency feeding centers.


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