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Increase in rate of need slowing down
Margaret and Keith Westfall - the husband and wife competitors dubbed Team Pepper - hand out another sample of their chili during Saturdays Second Harvest Food Banks annual chili pot cook-off at the MRPS Hall. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The times are getting a little better in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

At least, that is, when you look at the slowdown in the rate of the annual increase in demand for food to help feed struggling families.

After five years of demand for help increasing at a higher rate than the previous year in the seven counties served by Manteca-based Second Harvest Food Bank, this year has seen the lowest jump.

“Things are getting better,” noted Second Harvest Food Bank Chief Executive Officer Mike Mallory. “We climbed in demand this year but it’s a lot lower than the 15 to 20 percent annual rate increase we had been experiencing.”

He credits the ability to meet minimum needs of more than 400,000 people  in the county region with the community stepping up with both small and large donations of food and money.

There have been times - including in recent months - when Mallory wondered how they’d meet the demand.

“Our warehouse has gotten almost completely empty several times,” Mallory said of the demand for help from the 180 food closet operations  in the region that fill the needy by accessing food from the distribution operation on Industrial Park Drive.

The demand right know is at an all-time high with the food bank distributing 12 million pounds of food a year.

They are able to meet the need thanks in part to financial donations such as the $16,000 raised this past weekend at the chili pot event at the MRPS Hall. Due to arrangements with various distributors that $16,000 can be parlayed into $80,000 worth of food since every dollar donated the food bank is able to buy $5 worth of food.

A $25 donation, for example, buys $125 worth of food or enough to feed a family of four for a week.

For more information go to or call 239-2091