Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Food Bank's Resources Drained by Increasing Demand

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Food Bank's Resources Drained by Increasing Demand

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

Like Old Mother Hubbard, the Mandarin Food Bank's cupboard is getting bare at a time when the need is at an all-time high.

In July 2009, the food bank served 852 people. This July, the number soared to 1,850 clients, said Bonnie McNulty, co-director of the facility at 11730 Old St. Augustine Road.

"During the summer, our donations are always down," McNulty said. "People go on vacation and forget about us. They think Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only big need areas."

Their shelves need filling with hot and cold cereal, baked beans, tuna, soup, spaghetti and sauce and personal hygiene products.

McNulty said the food bank is seeing professionals who've never needed assistance.

"Another big group we're seeing now are people in the construction industry who've been out of work for a couple of years," she said.

Others are the working poor who don't qualify for food stamps and a growing number of immigrants. Many are from Guatemala and speak an Indian dialect that makes it difficult for them to communicate, McNulty said.

Single older people, who don't receive enough benefits, form another large group, she said. A week ago, an 88-year-old woman who recently had open-heart surgery and lived in a house without air-conditioning came in for food.

Clients receive three bags of non-perishable food, a bag of bread products, a bag of personal hygiene items, a half gallon of milk and a bag of perishable protein, containing two meat sources such as hamburger and chicken.

One major challenge for the 19-year-old nonprofit food bank is teaching clients how to budget, shop wisely and serve nutritious food, McNulty said.

"So we wrote a cookbook with tips and recipes on how to use the food that we give them," she said, adding that it's evolved into its third edition.

In combo with that, Maureen Camphire, the food bank's director of life skills, teaches classes three times a year on budgeting, shopping and stretching the food they receive. For instance, Camphire said she shows them how to make three casseroles out of a pound of ground beef.

All of the food bank workers are volunteers, including McNulty and her co-director, Mary Kaminski. …

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