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Local food banks need help restocking

Staff Photo: John Bohn Ivy Hudson, pantry manager of the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry in Grayson, prepares a standard box of food for a client. The South Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry serves nearly two hundred families weekly with food and utility bill assistance.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Ivy Hudson, pantry manager of the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry in Grayson, prepares a standard box of food for a client. The South Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry serves nearly two hundred families weekly with food and utility bill assistance.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Ivy Hudson, pantry manager of the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry in Grayson, prepares a standard box of food for a client. The South Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry serves nearly two hundred families weekly with food and utility bill assistance.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Volunteer Michele Babcock-Nice organizes the canned goods in the food pantry at the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Second Time Around Thrift Store in Norcross on Friday. During the summer months donations to food pantries really decrease compared to the other times of the year.

LILBURN -- St. Vincent de Paul's food supply in Lilburn has dropped, and the church's food bank isn't the only one in need of resources. A majority of the Gwinnett County food pantries are depleted of food and funding.

"A lot of times, the summer is a common time of shortage," said Jim Verrecchia, director of development at St. Vincent de Paul. "Obviously, (donors) start vacation mode. Most of the fundraising and food drives always happen in between the August and May months. There are not many food drives now because all of us get hit with the vacation schedules."

As the supply of food goes down, the demand goes up because the county's children are out of school, where they would regularly receive breakfast and lunch five times a week. Now, the parents are trying to full the void.

"Most of our donations come from the churches and people are on vacation," Norcross Co-op's Director Shirley Cabe said. "People don't think about people being hungry during the summertime and the need really goes up. Children are fed during the school year, but at home, they're not eating."

So, the food banks are asking for the community's help. They need citizens, churches and companies to host food drives to donate the non-perishable items to any of the local nonprofits.

Some food banks are still able to supply food, but they buy the food out of the nonprofit's pocket, which leads to cuts in other departments.

"Last month, we served 845 families, which is about average," Cabe said. "Even with the shortage, we always have food on the shelves. We'll take money that's been donated in the past to buy the food, but that means less money to pay rent and utilities."

While everyone else seems scarce on food, there is one food bank that seems to be doing well with their items: Hands of Christ in Duluth.

"We're doing good -- we planned ahead," said Hands of Christ executive director Mary Roberts. "We know we need to get it all in before the summertime or we would have some empty shelves."

It may sound like this location has it made, but they are having troubles in other areas of the co-op.

"We would like to invite everyone to the thrift store," she said. "We need to get some funds to help people pay their utilities because the summer months are hot."

There are six co-ops in Gwinnett, with Lilburn, Lawrenceville and North Gwinnett as locations along with Norcross, Duluth and the Southeast co-op.