Client numbers at the Food Pantry have increased steadily since 2007, from 8233 individual rations served (one week’s worth of food for an individual) in 2006-07 to almost 20,000 today — an average of 16.5% per year. Since the beginning of the Recession in 2008, all five chicken plants in the county closed. Businesses serving that industry, including farmers, were adversely affected. Many small businesses closed, and access to blue collar and middle class jobs in the county is still poor. From July 2011 through June 2014, demand for emergency food increased 40%. Changes in public policy also contributed to food insecurity: food stamp benefits were reduced three times in 18 months and unemployment benefits have been reduced to 2008 levels (a maximum of twelve weeks support). These dramatic increases in demand at the food pantry are illustrated in the chart below:
CORA Food Pantry:Individuals Served Since July, 2008
CORA has been able to keep pace with the need by creating new fundraising programs, forging new community relationships, and collaborating with similar organizations and county government to identify new funding sources. Examples are the Chatham Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Pantry, SNACK Angels sponsorship program, fostering of new PORCH programs (now 9 neighborhoods) that contribute more than 36,000 pounds of food a year, and increases in corporate and foundation grants.