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Please Help!
5000 Hungry People
The Interchurch Pantry served at least 5000 people a year before the increase in patronage from nearby areas such as Graton, Occidental, and Freestone as well as Sebastopol.
By Cecile Lusby

Have you shopped for groceries lately? Did you feel a shock at the cash register, but write your check anyway? Use the debit card? Here in West Sonoma County, there are people taking the grocery cart back through the aisles to return items— people who cannot pay for food after the fifteenth of the month. They are the new clients at Sebastopol's Interchurch Pantry: the working poor.

There are many reasons presented for the spike in the price of food. We have scarcity in many parts of the world, but by and large, agribusiness is fuel-intensive and the arrival of $4 a gallon gas means that all down the supply chain, the increase in the price of gas is passed on to the consumer, you and me. We at the Interchurch Food Pantry have noticed a 30 to 40 percent increase in the number of county residents arriving for help to make it to the end of the month. While things were a little better in April and May, with a dip in the number of customers, June is suddenly scary. What has changed? As secretary and volunteer for the Pantry, I want to explain the reason for our appeal for help.

Many self-employed workers are losing money at the pump. Many construction workers have been laid off or cannot find regular hours. Others are working, but their wages are not keeping up with inflated prices. Last fall, without any media coverage about inflation, the Pantry started seeing many more clients. These new customers talked about the higher prices and then the Pantry food buyers went to the Sonoma County Food Bank and found that the prices at the Food Bank had escalated. We need help now to purchase food for our neighbors.

West County gardeners have traditionally been generous sharing their harvests, but it is too early in the year for crops or bumper crops. At least my garden isn’t ready yet. While we would love to receive donations, what we need now is money to shop at the Food Bank. Our savings account is down to a few thousand dollars, and while we used to feed hundreds of people each month, our statistician, Steve Beck said in a recent email: We’re buying more food, spending more money, and being busier when working in the pantry. For the first two days of June we were open, we served 26 households with slightly over 100 people in them. That’s close to 25% of May’s activity in two days. The need for financial help is urgent. We usually get our money from participating churches in Sebastopol, but new costs have outstripped their contributions.

Please consider our service to the community and donate now. Send your checks to Sebastopol Interchurch Pantry, C/O Diana Godwin, Treasurer; PO. Box 579; Sebastopol, CA 95473.

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