Diane Roth expects the shelves at the Parker Task Force food bank to be more barren during the summer months, but this year is different.
The stock at the nonprofit, based in a building just west of Parker Town Hall, is at an “all-time low,” Roth said, prompting her to put the call out to the community for help. Donations drop every year during the summer, but demand seldom wanes. The food bank, in fact, recorded a 17 percent increase in clients last month compared to August 2012.
At this point, the shortage is not a crisis situation, but there is a dire need to make sure there is a sufficient amount of essentials to serve the 570 Douglas and Elbert county families who are regulars.
“We’re not in danger of not being able to serve clients. We’re not in danger of running out of all food, but the canned vegetables, I’ve never seen the stock so low,” said Roth, the organization’s spokeswoman.
There is also a scarcity of popular groceries like dry cereal, dog food, toilet paper and macaroni and cheese, as well as high-dollar items for which food stamps are not accepted, such as laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. July is such a slow time for donations that the task force forgoes its usual monthly food drive.
“People are busy going on vacation,” Roth said. “It’s not on their minds to donate to the food bank.”
The drop in available food couldn’t come at a worse time. Families who rely on the food bank for assistance are strapped this time of year because of back-to-school costs. Many of them are single parents. The task force conducted a school supply drive, but the items went quickly.
The Parker Task Force’s “Backpack Program” also has been a welcome addition for homeless families in the area, some of whom are staying with friends or family temporarily. Six Parker schools participate in the program that enables children in need to go home on Friday with a backpack stuffed with things like applesauce cups, instant oatmeal, granola bars and microwaveable meals. They return the backpack the following Monday to be refilled.
Needs increased 6 percent over the last year among Parker’s booming senior population. No matter what age or financial situation, the task force food bank is committed to providing balanced meals to clients, but it needs the community’s help to make it happen.
“A really good way people can donate, especially with all of the hectic schedules, is to buy grocery store gift cards and mail them to us,” Roth said. “We buy perishable foods: milk, eggs, butter, cheese and meat.”
Volunteers will hand out a “needs list” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 at both King Soopers locations, Safeway, Walmart and the Dollar Tree store in Parker.
“To supplement the monthly food drive, we are making a special appeal to groups, clubs, churches, organizations and neighborhoods to organize for the food drive and work together to bring needed items to the food bank during business hours,” said Steve Budnack, chairman of the Parker Task Force.
To donate or volunteer, visit www.parkertaskforce.org or call 303-841-3460.
Parker Task Force ‘needs’ list
Saltine crackers, sloppy Joe mix, pancake mix/syrup, coffee, dry potatoes, chili beans, refried beans, laundry detergent, juice bottles, fruit cups/canned pears, liquid hand soap, canned vegetables, dry cereal, dog food, cat food, toilet paper, and macaroni and cheese.