With today's weak economy, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (GPCFB) reported this week it experienced record-setting numbers in their programs last year. Approximately 27.4 million pounds of food, or about 22.8 million meals, were distributed in the fiscal year that ended on June 30.
Iris Valanti, Director of Communications for the GPCFB, said they saw more families affected by the struggling economy throughout the past year.
"Aside from the usual people we expect to need food assistance — low income workers, kids, and senior citizens on fixed incomes — what we find is that there are many more families coming, working families, or families who have had a breadwinner that's been laid off, or people that are just earning less money and can't make ends meet," Valanti said.
The records were set with nearly 4% less total operating expenses when compared to the previous year. The GPCFB said it was able to do that in part because the community donated 1.4 million more pounds of food than it did the year before.
"The community is aware of the situation. They see that their neighbors have been laid off or they've experienced some economic setback and they know how hard it is out there, and I think they've really just tried to stand up for their neighbors and help," Valanti said.
Valanti added poverty rates are expected to increase in the coming year, which means the Food Bank's services will continue to be in demand. "[The poverty rate] was 15.1% last year and it's expected to go up anywhere from 0.1% to like, 15.7%. Even 0.1 is going to mean three million more people are living in poverty," Valanti said.
The GPCFB also credited an increase in volunteering as a key attribute to its success. An additional 5,558 people gave their time to bring the total number of volunteers who aided in the Food Bank's efforts last year to 12,421.