Most food banks across the country receive many generous donations during the holiday season, but experience dramatic drops in donations during the summer months.
The two hardest months for food banks, including Oakhurst's Manna House, to keep their pantries full are July and August. It can be a tough time of the year considering 46.5 million Americans (15%) were reported as living at or below the poverty level in 2012.
With that in mind, Oakhurst's Grocery Outlet Bargain Market is participating in the company's country-wide "Independence From Hunger" food drive during July.
All food and cash donations collected during the month will go to Manna House to be used for those in need in the Mountain Area.
Mountain Area residents are being asked to help make a difference by participating in one of three ways.
1. Look for specially-marked food items that Manna House has identified as "high-need" items. Those products can be purchased and placed in the collection bin at the front of the store.
2. Purchase a pre-made bag of food filled with an assortment of groceries that have been identified as as needed bags range in price from $4 to $10.
3. At check-out, tell a store cashier that you would like to make a $1 or $5 cash donation. Donations will go directly to Manna House.
"We have signs throughout the entire store asking for the communities help to create an independence from hunger, said store owner Jessica Steele. "It has been a top priority of ours since our grand opening to help in any way we can and we feel that this is going towards a great cause. We are eager to help the community rally together and help neighbors in need."
Tom Nicolulis, Manna House director, said Grocery Outlet Bargain Market is stepping up to the plate with their community efforts to help Manna House.
"Their efforts to help at this time of year is desperately needed during a time when donations are slow," Nicolulis said. "Their year-long effort is greatly appreciated in our efforts to offer comfort to those in need with dignity, which is what Manna House does. I encourage the community to participate in this food drive during July to help off-set the $4,000 a month Manna House pays each month for non-perishable items.
In the company's first food drive in 2011, about 150 Grocery Outlet stores across the country, thanks to the generosity of customers, donated more than $223,000 in food, cash, and gift cards to help food assistance agencies across the country. In 2012, donations increased to $292,000 and 2013 donations topped $300,000.
"Currently there are 210 stores and the goal is to raise enough to put the total donated amount over the $1 million mark," said Brandon Steele.
Store hours: 7 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. daily.
Details: (559) 683-2400.