Cold weather can affect food security for families in need

By Leanna Scachetti, WDBJ

Cold weather can have an effect on travel, plumbing and even food security.

For example, cold weather can take a toll on your car and for some people, it's an almost unbearable expense: forcing them to choose between repairs and feeding their family.

Leaders at Feeding America Southwest Virginia said they have to take this into consideration when trying to serve the community.

Amanda Allen, Marketing Director for Feeding America Southwest Virginia, has traded the cold outside the offices to the refrigerated warehouse inside.

She walks aisles that are stocked with food for people regularly in need as well as those who might find themselves in need when the temperature dips.

That's because of a big problem Allen refers to as "Heat or Eat," meaning some families might struggle between being able to pay their increased electricity bill and feeding their families at the same time.

"If their budget's already tight, there's that heating bill going up in the wintertime and they're going to have to consider how to balance that with the needs of their family," Allen said.

Food bank inventory is also challenged by consistently colder temperatures. She said fresh healthy produce is not as readily available from local farms like it is in the summer.

"I think something folks don't realize is even when we get that nice produce donated to us, there's trucking and transportation fees associated with that," she said. "The further away it comes from, the higher the fees are."

Allen said they know some families also struggle if they hold seasonal jobs such as construction, and find themselves not bringing home as much money when work isn't as available.

Allen said their services and community partnerships can make a huge difference to folks struggling to meet basic needs all year, but especially during the winter.

"You'd be amazed how folks have all these mounting struggles," Allen said. "But if they can have a meal, if they can feed their family, they are so, so thankful for that."

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