Reporter: Sally Delta
Lynchburg, VA - The USDA has recently chopped its donations to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in half, and that belt-tightening has trickled down hitting our local agencies pretty hard.
Fifty-five agencies are a part of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank system. Twenty two of them participate in the USDA's TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program).
Park View Community Mission in Lynchburg is one of those affected. They say it's a tough time to take a cut like this.
"This is a list of people who will be coming in to get a box of food," said Mary Dawson, a volunteer at Park View Community Mission.
Every month, they give out boxes of food to those in need. Dawson says lately that need has grown significantly.
"It almost filled up the minute it started."
Park View has seen a major increase in requests for help specifically in the last three years. In 2008, they gave out a little more than 9,000 boxes. In 2011 they gave out more than 25,000. Dawson says she's noticed an increase in the elderly population.
"Some of the senior citizens we see are keeping their grandchildren and that makes extra mouths to feed," she said.
With more boxes to fill, that means less is going in them. It doesn't help that the local food bank is feeling the pinch as well.
"It's affecting food banks all over the United States," said Jim Scrivener, manager of Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
So what does a cutback like that look like? Emptier shelves at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, even on a good day.
"We've actually had it even lower with one palette or even down to no palettes at all," said Scrivener, referring to the almost bare rack.
As a result, groups like Park View Community Mission are forced to give a little less.
"If we don't have it we just don't give it because we just don't have the money," said Dawson.
To give you an idea of how much the USDA is cutting back, two years ago the USDA gave the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank 4.3 million pounds of food. This year they're on track to get 2.3 million pounds, which is almost a 50 % reduction.
According to Scrivener one major reason for USDA cutbacks is the high price of food.