MODESTO -- Officials with Inter-Faith Ministries of Greater Modesto will gather Monday morning at an O'Brien's Market to kick off a food drive that ends Oct. 16, a day recognized each year by the United Nations as World Food Day.
Inter-Faith hopes to bring in tens of thousands of pounds of canned tuna, pasta, cereal, canned goods and other nonperishable food.
It needs the food its pantry is on track to serve more than 40,000 people this year. That's a 25 percent increase from last year and a 70 percent increase from two years ago.
"We are serving more and more working poor," Inter-Faith Executive Director Barbara England said.
But the disabled, unemployed and low-income seniors still are among the ranks of those it feeds.
Schools, real estate offices, grocers, banks and others will have food barrels and donation boxes during the food drive. England said Inter-Faith has about 20 locations and is soliciting more sites.
Monday's kickoff at the Dale Road O'Brien's will include remarks from Mayor Garrad Marsh and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto. Inter-Faith board President Tom Elrod will speak about hunger in the area.
He said people too often mistakenly believe food pantries serve the people holding the "will work for food" signs or drug addicts or alcoholics living on the streets.
"By far," Elrod said, "the majority of people we serve are single moms and two-parent families that work but don't make enough to keep food on the table. Eighty percent of the people we serve are children and the people connected to them."
Going door to door
Love Modesto, the volunteer-run city improvement campaign, will help Inter-Faith by going door to door to collect food Sept. 29. Those interested in volunteering can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The food drive ends Oct. 16 with a health fair at Orville Wright Elementary School in Modesto's airport neighborhood. Food service company Sodexo is sponsoring some of the health fair events.
Despite the official end of the recession a couple of years ago, area food banks and food pantries are not seeing any letup in demand. Two examples:
Calvary Temple's Nineveh Outreach provided food to 63,701 people last year, which is a 16 percent increase from 2009. And Riverbank Christian Food Sharing is on track to serve about 50 percent more people than it did last year, when it provided food to more than 15,000 people.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Inter-Faith Ministries needs more locations for food barrels and donation boxes. It also is accepting food and checks. Inter-Faith Ministries is at 120 Kerr Ave., Modesto, 95354. For more, call Tiffanie Pidgley at (209) 572-3117.