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Salvation Army cupboards are bare
Lissette Maunakea removes food from the nearly empty shelf in the Turlock Salvation Army food pantry. The charity says it sees a decline in food donations every August, but this year has been particularly difficult. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal
Usually, the shelves of the food pantry at the Turlock Salvation Army are filled with food. Sometimes there is so much over-flow that Major Debi Shrum has to find someplace to store it all. This August, however, the shelves are almost bare.
“August is absolutely our worst month,” Shrum said.
The Salvation Army relies mostly on private donations to stock their shelves and refrigerators with food. Shrum said that they do receive some contributions from FEMA, but most of the food is donated from community members and grocery stores.
The Salvation Army sees an outpouring of generosity from the community during the cold months and the holiday season. During summer they still receive regular donations from grocery stores, but they see drastically less donations from individual Turlockers. Shrum said that this is because many people go away on vacation during the summer, or they just don’t think about the hungry when the weather is nice.
“Life keeps on going during the summer. You forget that people still get hungry. Many people don’t realize that until school starts up again,” Shrum said.
The food donated to the Salvation Army is given directly to Turlock families in need through the Salvation Army Food Assistance program. This program provides a box of food to any local family that can demonstrate a one-time or temporary need. The box includes dried goods and canned meats, eggs, cheese, frozen meat and fresh vegetables, depending on the season or supply.   
The Salvation Army tries not to give groceries to a family more than once every six months, and instead helps them find agencies that can offer a more permanent solution to their financial problems. For example, they can help low-income families get a discount from TID for their utility bills.
Each family or individual is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Shrum said that there are always some extenuating circumstances that might force a family to ask for help more often, and they are not turned away for that. Shrum said that many families find themselves in a situation where they need one-time help, especially since the recent economic downturn in the United States.
The Salvation Army gives away an average of four to seven food boxes a day.  When the economy took a turn for the worst, however, they started to see a lot more families who could not afford to buy food. During April and May, the Turlock Salvation Army gave away an average of 13 food boxes a day. Shrum said that the numbers have started to level back out, but their pantry is wiped out.
The Salvation Army is most in need of dry food donations, especially peanut butter, jelly, tuna, pasta, rice, soup, canned vegetables and canned or dry beans.
Raley’s supermarket is accepting donations on behalf of the Salvation Army until Aug. 20. They have marked barrels inside of their Geer Road location where shoppers can drop off food. Donations are also accepted at the Turlock Salvation Army Social Services office on Lander Avenue. For more information or to make a donation, call Lissette at 667-6091.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.