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Food bank use jumps by 41%

Walk organized for funds

Posted: September 20, 2008 8:11 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Participants make their way back from a nearly 2-mile walk on Saturday morning in Valencia. The event benefited the Hunger Defense Fund and wanted to bring awareness to the services provided by the program to alleviate hunger in the community.

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For the past year, Wendi Lancy has seen more and more people of the Santa Clarita Valley lose their homes and jobs because of a struggling economy.

As community outreach coordinator for the Hunger Defense Fund, one of a handful of local food banks, Lancy said the organization has seen a 41 percent increase from January to July when compared to last year. The group provides food and assistance to all types of local clients, including low-income families, single parents and seniors.
“Needs are up and increasing and donations are down,” she said.

To respond to the needs of the community, the Hunger Defense Fund organized its first fundraising walk on Saturday to raise money for 6-year-old organization and to increase awareness about the people struggling in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“We need to have a major fundraising event,” Lancy said.

About 300 families, kids and volunteers responded to food bank’s needs when they gathered at the K-Mart parking lot in Valencia sporting their walking shoes and matching marigold T-shirts.

Along with a drive-by food drop-off location, participants walked the nearly 2-mile path on the sidewalks of Valencia streets.

Lancy posted an initial goal of raising $50,000, but remained unsure about the totals raised on Saturday.
The organization operates its budget with overhead costs of 1 percent and 99 percent of every dollar goes towards the Hunger Defense Fund’s programs.

“We want to make sure the money we spent is on helping people,” she said.

Anticipating more of a need in the coming months, the food bank is already planning for the holiday season. Lancy said Hunger Defense Fund will host a community-wide food drive on Oct. 25 as part of Make a Difference Day and will soon begin taking turkey donations to give to clients for Thanksgiving.

At the K-Mart parking lot, groups of families, friends and volunteers gathered in between walking.

One of the participants was Ed Bernstein and his dog Sam. As president of Dynamic Networking Alliance, he gathered about 10 of his colleagues to take part in the walk.

The group donated $800 and 17 dozen T-shirts for the fundraiser.

Bernstein, a Newhall resident, was glad to see a local organization helping the people of the Santa Clarita Valley who are in need.

“It’s a safety net for people who may not qualify for other programs,” he said.

As the economy continues to struggle, the needs of organizations like the Hunger Defense Fund will become much more needed, he said.

“Who knows how bad it’s going to get?” he said.

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