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Heading Into Holiday Season, Demand High At Gainesville Food Bank

Volunteers on Wednesday stacked the shelves at Bread of the Mighty Food Bank just like they would any other day.

But Bread of the Mighty is struggling to keep up with demand.

It hasn't had to turn agencies away yet, but it's almost to that point.

"The shortage is when we wouldn't have enough food for the people coming in to get the food,” Bread of the Mighty Community Director Karen Woolfstead said. “So far, we've managed, but we've had to limit, which is very unusual for us."

If you walk in the food bank, you might not think there's a problem up front.

But it's different in the back.

"Right now, if you look at the shelves, because of the generosity of the people who have seen the shortage, our shelf is full with cans,” Woolfstead said. “But when you go to the back where we usually have it full as well to bring back up, it's a bit empty back there."

On a day when Bread of the Mighty isn't facing a shortage, its warehouse will see boxes of food stacked 10 feet high. Right now, the stacks sit around four feet high.

The food bank has already distributed 8 million pounds of food across five counties in the 2019 fiscal year.

Nearly 6 million of those pounds have served Alachua County.

People have noticed.

Jane Dickerson is an outreach minister at Landmark Holy Temple of God. She's been coming to Bread of the Mighty for 15 years.

The one demographic she sees it benefit most?

"The single moms who make a dollar too much to get on the system and then they have to choose between whether they want to buy food or pay bills,” Dickerson said. “We give them food, so that they're able to go ahead and pay they bills."

Even when she doesn't plan on helping, she does.

"(Wednesday), I did not plan on coming,” Dickerson said. “But I got a call where someone was in need for food, so that's why I stopped by."

Bread of the Mighty Food Bank wants more of the community to help with donations.

Things like canned goods, peanut butter, stuffing and even pet food and charcoal are in need. Just about any nonperishable item could be donated.

"This is something that the hungry families really need,” Woolfstead said.

The food bank is also looking for volunteers.

Chris O’Brien is a reporter at WUFT. Follow him on Twitter @THEChrisOB or contact him at Christophercobrien29@gmail.com.