Harvest Hope Food Bank holding a campaign to “fill the gap” as food demand continues

Harvest Hope kicks off 'Fill the Gap' campaign

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - During the pandemic, Harvest Hope Food Bank has served more families than ever, and now they’re asking the community to help “fill the gap” by providing the products they need most.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of people who need food in comparison to the amount of food we’re receiving,” said Pee Dee branch executive director Nicole Echols.

The “fill the gap” campaign will request specific products to be donated through the end of August.

Beginning next week, Harvest Hope Food Bank is asking for donations of canned meat. The week of Aug. 15, they’re requesting peanut butter and rice, and the week of Aug. 22 they’ll ask for donations of canned fruits and vegetables.

Echols said they’re always in need of donations, but these items are essential for feeding the families they serve.

“We know that if people donate a bag of rice or can of soup or a protein and a bag of noodles, that can create a whole meal. So that’s why we’re asking community members to give us things we can actually make meals with. A can of soup can be a whole meal, whereas a can of corn and some white potatoes doesn’t create a whole meal for a family,” said Echols.

To put the need into perspective, Echols said in June of last year, they operated two mobile food pantries to provide meals to rural areas across the Pee Dee. In June of 2020, they operated a total of 46 mobile food pantries.

Echols said Harvest Hope can’t fill the gap alone. They survive off of community donations.

“We’re giving out 600 boxes or 250 boxes at every mobile food pantry and every one of those boxes has a bag of rice or a canned protein in there. For us to continue that, we need more food. It’s endless,” said Echols.

In the past, Echols said they’ve had to overcome a rise in demand following a hurricane, but with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the need for these donations is even more critical.

“We have had to roll up our sleeves and do this before, but there is an end date and people get back on their feet, and there is a conclusion to hurricane relief for most, not everyone, but at the end of the day we don’t know how long this will last,” said Echols.

If you aren’t able to make a donation at one of the drop-off locations over the next three weeks, Echols said every dollar donated can provide five meals for families in need. Donations can be made here, and a full list of drop-off locations can be found.

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