— From staff reports
Despite recent gains in the state and national economy, there are many in Limestone County who continue to go hungry.
Laura Aldridge, director of Athens-Limestone Emergency Food and Shelter, said numbers of those served continue to be up over last year. She said the food bank normally serves 680 people by this time each year, but this year, the number is more than 800.
“Last year we had over 2,000 for the year, and if this keeps up, we’re going to be close to 2,400,” she said.
Though there are still a number of impoverished clients, the bank continues to serve clients who were affected by the April 27 tornadoes.
“We are still seeing people who are in transition, but who haven’t gotten things done yet,” she said.
ALEFS enables residents to receive food assistance three times per calendar year. The agency has been able to expand the types of food it offers because it is now receiving some frozen food items, eggs and bread from Walmart.
“I gave a family a roast one day last week and the lady came back and said, ‘I just had to come back and thank you,’” Aldridge said. “She said, ‘My husband and I haven’t had a beef roast in six months,’ and that made me cry.”
ALEFS welcomes public donations any time of the year, but Dollar General stores in Athens are currently collecting items for the food bank.
Also, the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive kicks off on May 12. The annual drive, now in its 20th year, is sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Residents can leave nonperishable food items by their mailbox to be picked up, and food will be given to ALEFS. The drive collected more than 70 million pounds of food nationwide last year.
The drive, the largest one-day food-collection event in the nation, has been a success every year, said NALC President Fredric Rolando, but the needs are particularly staggering this year.
“Sixteen percent of all Americans are at risk of hunger — uncertain where their next meal may be coming from,” he said in a statement. “That includes 1 in 5 children under the age of 18, plus 4 million seniors who are forced every day to choose between paying a utility bill and buying food.”
For more information on donating to ALEFS, call 256-230-6311.