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PEMBROKE, N.H. -- Associated Grocers of New England has donated 14,342 of pounds of food, which was left behind in its recent move here, to Manchester-based New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of New Hampshire Catholic Charities.
Less-than-full and damaged cases of goods weren't taken to the new DC, so that the company could relocate and restock more efficiently. Normally this leftover product would have been sent to a reclamation center or sold, but AG chose to donate the food instead, in response to community need.
On April 21 Food Bank staff packed the remaining product at AG's former warehouse in Manchester and transported it by truck to the Food Bank, where volunteers unloaded and sorted it.
"It's vital that we keep our shelves stocked," said New Hampshire Food Bank executive director Melanie Gosselin in a statement. "We couldn't do it without help from our community supporters."
The donation came at a crucial time for the charity, which is currently experiencing a downturn in the amount of product donated, from an average of eight truckloads a month to just three -- a decrease of 125,000 pounds of product each month. The need is especially urgent in the wake of flooding in the state, which means that the food bank will be seeing a rise in demand for such items as ready-to-eat meals, bottled water, cleaning supplies, and paper products.
Food bank operations manager Michele Garron told Progressive Grocer that the plunge in donations was due to several factors, including the fact that area supermarkets were "running leaner," resulting in "less [salvage] product out there," while demand has risen 52 percent, which she saw as "a sign of the economy."
Additionally, the summer normally sees an increase in demand, as children are on summer vacation and so not enrolled in school meal programs. However, in her 15 years at the organization, Garron noted that current conditions are "the worst I've seen."