Of the Baker City Herald

Local food banks are continuing to collect donations to prepare for what is expected to be twice last years need.

Saturdays Scouting for Food Day brought in just about half of what was collected a year ago, according to Ginger Savage, food drive coordinator.

The food bank isnt the only local charity that is suffering from declining contributions, according to Maj. Diane Trimmer of The Salvation Army.

People have been giving to the Sept. 11 fund, she said, referring to the outpouring of support for people in New York City after the city was attacked by terrorists. I believe that has affected everybody all charities right now. People have given their charitable dollars elsewhere.

Trimmer said the need in Baker City is greater because of an influx of the working poor to the community.

The dollar doesnt stretch as far as it has and wages havent increased to match inflation, she added.

She also attributed the increased need to the rise in the cost of electricity and natural gas this fall.

The first thing to get cut in a budget is entertainment expense if you even have that and then food. You make do with less, she said.

And because people have less money to spend, businesses in the community also are affected, she added.

Trimmer said 15 to 20 new families per months have been relying on the food bank recently.

The food bank received donations of meat recently, and Safeway has helped the effort by donating bread.

Items especially needed are staples such as flour and sugar, she said. Boxed dinners that require minimal preparation also are needed.

The opening of a food bank at the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center hasnt taken pressure off the requests received by The Salvation Army, Trimmer said.

With the increased need, people are utilizing all the food banks, she said.

Donations of canned food will continue to be accepted in the schools through Nov. 21, according to Savage. Donations may be brought to The Salvation Army at 2505 Broadway St. or to the Baker School District office, 2090 Fourth St. To donate money, checks should be made payable to The Salvation Army and designated to go to the food bank, Trimmer said. The money will be split three ways, between food banks at The Salvation Army, the Catholic Church and the Compassion Center.

I really think that people need to look at their charitable dollars and if they have dollars not yet donated, they should remember local charities, Trimmer said. The national need is great, but local charities are really suffering as we have seen with the Red Cross. And The Salvation Army is suffering greatly as well.

Im sure other food banks are seeing the same things were seeing a diminishing of donation dollars with the increased need.