Visitors to the Yuma Community Food Bank Wednesday morning were not given any meat, bread, diapers or baby formula because of a serious shortage.
“The coolers are empty,” Mike Ivers, YCFB president and CEO, said Wednesday afternoon. “Today we have no meat and no bread, no diapers and no formula.”
Although those in need of food were not turned away, “they aren't getting a lot in their shopping carts,” Ivers continued.
In response to the extreme shortage, YCFB officials have launched the S.O.S. (Stock Our Shelves) initiative, and are encouraging private individuals, companies and organizations to immediately launch food drives.
YCFB hopes the initiative will bring in at least 20,000 pounds of nonperishable food items as well as meat, bread, diapers, and baby formula.
The donations will ensure eligible families in the Yuma area who cannot afford enough food to stave off hunger will be able to continue visiting the food bank once a month to receive a shopping cart full of food.
YCFB has traditionally seen an exponential increase in people visiting the food bank for assistance when the weather heats up, but the numbers are especially high this year as a result of the stagnant local economy.
On May 15, YCFB broke a record when it served 480 families on a single day, the highest number served since YCFB opened in 1978. The food bank currently serves about 2,600 people each month.
“Obviously with the increase in temperatures, people are using more electricity and having to pay more for their bills,” said Beryl Durazo, YCFB resources and development assistant.
“When they are already stretching that food dollar, it becomes even more difficult. With Yuma County having the highest unemployment rate in the country, it is not surprising to see our numbers increase, especially during the summer when we have limited job opportunities.”
According to Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap study, Yuma County now has the highest food insecurity rate in the state, with 27.3 percent of its population not knowing where their next meal will come from.
That means about 52,950 people in Yuma County are classified as being food insecure individuals.
The percentage of children under the age of 18 who are food insecure is currently at about 42.7 percent, or 23,420 kids.
For more information about the S.O.S. initiative, call YCFB at 343-1243.