The economy may be improving after the Great Recession, but many Cobb residents are still going hungry, said Annette Lee, director of administrative services at MUST Ministries.
“You never see it go way down,” Lee said.
Volunteers at the faith-based nonprofit were busily swarming its donation center at Chastain Road, near Bells Ferry Road, in the days before Thanksgiving sorting donations and preparing batches of canned and boxed foods for distribution.
The organization serves between 1,000 and 1,200 families a month in Cobb and Cherokee counties.
“We have a good supply but it won’t last,” said Wendy Booth, director of operations for MUST.
About 50 million Americans, or one in four, are at risk for hunger, according to Feeding America, the country’s biggest nonprofit fighting hunger. That’s about 17 million children and 4 million seniors.
A cut in federal food stamps benefits has sent more hungry families to Cobb food pantries.
A provision in the 2009 stimulus bill boosted the amount of assistance people received during the economic downturn through the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That boost expired Nov. 1.
“With that cut, we’ve had a lot more families coming in and asking for food since they’re not able to get as much from the grocery store as they had in the past,” said Arielle Burnette, spokeswoman for the Center for Family Resources in Marietta.
More individuals are coming through the door, Burnette said. Though the organization will feed about 1,400 families through its annual Thanks for Giving program, it will also need donations to stay stocked.
“The economy is getting better, but in Cobb County we’ve definitely got a lot of people who are without,” she said.
The cut in benefits hasn’t yet affected Sweetwater CAMP in Austell, but the city’s high unemployment rate is still sending a steady stream of clients to the nonprofit that serves about 100 families a day and gives away about 20 pounds of food per person each visit.
“We have seen many food pantries limit services to a few times a year and they are giving smaller amounts,” said Darlene Duke, executive director of Sweetwater CAMP.
how to help:
Food banks need non-perishable food items like soups, pastas, peanut butter and canned meats;
Donations can be taken to: MUST Ministries, 55 Chastain Rd. NW, Suite 110, Kennesaw;
Center for Family Resources, 995 Roswell St. NE Suite 100, Marietta; and
Sweetwater CAMP, 6289 Veterans Memorial Drive Building 12-A, Austell.