Rhode Islanders are in need of food, by the pantry-full.
The United Way of Rhode Island fielded approximately 80,000 food-related calls in its most recent fiscal year, compared with more than 40,000 calls taken the year prior, a nearly 98 percent increase.
Meanwhile, food banks are feeling the pinch as traditional food sources have reduced food donations considerably.
Other sources have attempted to fill that gap, such as banks, retail stores, manufacturing and design companies, engineering vendors, postal workers and local farmers throughout the Ocean State that pull together and supply groceries for those in need.
“Despite the fact that some public and private resources have diminished,” said Christopher J. Medici of the United Way of Rhode Island, “we are seeing industries and organizations step up to that challenge to help as many people as they possibly can.”
Ocean State Job Lot delivered 14 truckloads of food, or 420,000 pounds, in 2011 and is the single biggest food donor to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
Self-declared “closeout guys,” deal-finders at Ocean State Job Lot scan the country for food deals, purchase in bulk and ship pallets of food to local food banks. Recently the company sent a tractor-trailer full of pasta sauce, grains, mashed potato mix and others items.
“We tend to look for staples that people can make meals out of,” said David Sarlitto of Ocean State Job Lot.