Food Bank Expands To Meet Growing Need

By Corinne Rose

September 5, 2012 Updated Sep 5, 2012 at 6:14 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- In less than two years, Community Harvest Food Bank has raised more than $4 million towards its $5 million goal.

And Wednesday, leaders there cut a ceremonial ribbon to open their newly-renovated and expanded Tillman Road facility.

At Community Harvest Food Bank, it's a good thing the shelves are fully stocked. The experts here say that the need is greater than ever. They say the recession may be over, but they're not feeling that here yet.

Bills that are stable -- mortgage, car payment, utilities... those don't change when your income does, so people are seeking other ways to stretch those shrinking disposable income dollars.

"For a lot of folks that means having to cut back on expenses they would have as far as their food and what they need for their families and so they're seeking alternatives to be able to provide what they need," says Emily Weikert Bryant of Feeding Indiana's Hungry, the umbrella organization for Community Harvest.

That's the case for Leigh Stiles, who's using Community Harvest for the first time.

"We just couldn't make ends meet. My husband was out of a job for a little while. Thank God he just found another one. But the paychecks aren't rolling in yet because he just started, and we haven't been able to make ends meet as far as food goes," says Stiles.

Nationally, in June, a record 46.7 million people received food stamps.

In July, 912,000 hoosiers got the need-based assistance.

Food stamps can only be used at retail stores, but don't cover things like vitamins, toilet paper and soap, so more people need to get those items from food banks.

And the typical Community Harvest client might not be who you'd think: single moms, those with parents living with them, and mostly caucasian.

And with advanced medical technology these days, many baby boomers may outlive their resources and need.

So whether it's someone who needs long-term assistance or somebody who just needs a stop gap measure, the need continues.

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