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Organizations asking for more help for those in need

Donations drop during summer months, food closet president says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn aid organizations are facing more need with fewer donations, and are asking for the community’s help. In June 2010 the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet saw 979 families in need, 97 of which were new families to the program. In June 2011 those numbers grew to 1,061 families in need, 120 of which were new to the program, according to food closet documents. In the 2010/2011 year, the organization budgeted $190,000 for food in addition to what it received in donations, according to the food closet. “I just did a little analysis last week and our income that we have received is about 30 percent of the income of what we have budgeted this year, and our expenses are running about 37 percent,” said Sandy Bassett, president of the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet. “So, you can see our expenses are higher than what money we have coming in.” Bassett said she isn’t sure why they are seeing more in need, but she doesn’t attribute it to the time of year. “I’m not exactly sure if their unemployment has run out or the economy has just been so flat,” Bassett said. “Last month we had 120 new families that had never been here before. Every month we are averaging about 100 new families that we have never seen here before.” Bassett said the summer months do have an impact on the organization. “July, August and September, those are really hard months,” she said. “People are off on vacations, they just don’t think about donating. “ Basset said a possible piece of federal legislation passed by the House and now at the Senate for consideration could cut funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture donated food. “Twenty percent of the commodity foods that we get from the USDA will be cut from that,” Bassett said. This would have a huge impact on their budget, Bassett said. “We are barely hanging on,” she said. “We are operating in the red, which we don’t like to do. The community has been very generous, and every time we go out to the community they respond. But it seems like this year we can’t even get even.” Bassett said to help the organization, community members could donate on the food closet’s website auburnfoodcloset.com. For those who want to donate food, the closet is most in need of canned or fresh fruit, canned meat and canned vegetables. The Auburn Salvation Army is also seeing a similar trend with more in need and fewer donations. Major Ralph Jiminez, with the Auburn Salvation Army, said the Auburn office has seen a 5 to 8 percent increase in those it’s serving. Jiminez said he attributes the growth to the state of the economy and the fact that a lot of people are still unemployed. The organization has to budget more for purchasing food, because donations are down at this time of year, Jiminez said. “What normally happens is we receive food from the different grocery stores … and depending on how many people show up, it could be gone by the middle of the day or the end of the day,” he said. “We are starting to pay consistently now because this is a slower time for us to receive donated dollars so we can buy food.” The Auburn Salvation Army budgets $48,000 a year currently to purchase food, but that amount is probably going to go up with the new budget in October, Jiminez said. Community members can make food or monetary donations at the Auburn Salvation Army on Sutter Street, on its website or by mail, Jiminez said. The Grocery Outlet on Grass Valley Highway is holding its company-wide Independence from Hunger campaign throughout the month of July and shoppers can make donations of specially-marked food items or cash. These donations go directly to the aid organizations in Auburn, according to John Stevens, owner of Grocery Outlet. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 23, Grocery Outlet in cooperation with the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet, Auburn Salvation Army and Auburn Adventist Community Services, is holding a Stuff-a-Truck event in which shoppers can buy items in the store and donate to the three groups. “Really the bottom line is people are really reaching out for people who are underprivileged during the holidays more so, and people are in great need for independence from hunger throughout the year,” Stevens said. “If everybody could give a little, everybody would be a lot better off.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Ways to donate to those in need in Auburn Auburn Interfaith Food Closet Website: auburnfoodcloset.com By mail: Auburn Interfaith Food Closet, 2985 Richardson Drive, PO Box 132, Auburn, CA, 95604 In person: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday and last Saturday of every month at 2985 Richardson Drive, Auburn Auburn Salvation Army: Website: gosalarmy.org By mail: Auburn Corps, PO Box 4088, Auburn, CA, 95604 In person: 286 Sutter St., Auburn