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Area food bank will hand out goods on Saturday
Kay Blackstock, left, Dennis Reeves Jr. and Randi Dyer will be handing out boxes of commodities Saturday as part of Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s food distribution project. The food will be distributed from the parking lot of Hollis Transport on Cantrell Road in Flowery Branch. - photo by Tom Reed

Food distribution
When: 9 am. to noon Saturday
Where: Hollis Transport, 4515 Cantrell Road, Flowery Branch
Qualifications: People who qualify for The Emergency Food Assistance Program are eligible to receive this food
Contact: 770-967-0075

The Georgia Mountain Food Bank in Hall County will distribute food to 500 families on Saturday provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the federal stimulus act.

Food will be distributed 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the food bank’s Flowery Branch location.

The Georgia Mountain Food Bank, which collects surplus food and grocery products for distribution to nonprofit partner agencies, is helping support Hunger Action Month by distributing food and fighting hunger during the month of September. The food bank is an affiliate of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

The USDA reports that in June, the number of Americans receiving food stamps rose for the eighth straight month. The agency reports a 22 percent increase, or 700,000 more people, in one year.

Thirty-five million Americans receive food stamps, and people receiving food stamps are at incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty level.

This shows the increased need that food banks and their partner agencies are seeing.

"A lot of the food pantries are reporting almost double the amount of families coming for assistance," said Kay Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank.

Blackstock said that everyone is scrambling to get more food for the growing numbers of people who are coming to the food banks.

Saturday’s food distribution is a result of the increased demand, which has affected many local distribution agencies.

"There are a lot of good folks out there trying to meet the need," said Blackstock, who said some groups are having to turn families away because they don’t have enough food to distribute.

Numerous local groups are planning food drives for November and December, when the need will be very high.

"It’s really going to be a great help because hunger doesn’t take a holiday," Blackstock said.

"We have people who need help all of the time."

More people who have never reached out for assistance are being pushed to do so because of the overall state of the economy.

"The economic downturn has touched everyone’s lives," said Blackstock. "It is not about not having enough food, it is about getting food to the people who need it."

Volunteers young and old are eager to help the cause. Flowery Branch High School’s special education department sent some of their students to volunteer with September’s distribution project.

"Everyone can play a part in making a difference," Blackstock said.

Saturday’s distribution provides enough food to make one package each for 500 households.

A package contains two dozen eggs, six packages of cheese, 24 cans of fruit, two whole chickens and two turkey breasts. Volunteers help create the packages ahead of time.

People who qualify for The Emergency Food Assistance Program are eligible to receive this food.

On Saturday, each household receiving food will be asked to provide a name and address and sign a self-declaration form required by USDA. Volunteers and employees of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank will be on site to help and direct traffic to load each vehicle with food quickly and safely.

Blackstock was present at another recent distribution, at which, she said, "cars were lined up as far as the eyes can see."

Despite how large the crowd gets Saturday in Flowery Branch, Blackstock said that food bank officials hope to serve everyone who comes.

Saturday’s food distribution will help The Georgia Mountain Food Bank plan for a future event in October.

Officials will be able to judge if they should increase the amount of food available in October by how things go on Saturday.

"We are thankful to this community for all the support of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, and we look forward to continuing to grow our ability to serve in the coming months," Blackstock said.

Volunteers and donations to the food bank are graciously accepted.

"For every dollar donated, we can purchase up to $8 worth of product," Blackstock said.

For more information, or to volunteer, call 770-967-0075.

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