May 08, 2001 11:00 pm

The people keep coming, asking for a little help in feeding their families, and the numbers are not going down; theyre going up.

Food drives in Union County continue to raise volumes of canned and dried foods, and the U.S. Department of Agricultures commodities program is providing more food than in recent years. Carmen Gentry, the countys food bank coordinator, is grateful for the bounty.

But she needs a place to store it.

The food bank rents two bays in the bus barn at the Union County Senior Center on Albany Street. The bays are packed full of non-perishable goods, awaiting distribution to the emergency food box programs.

The food bank owns a cooler-freezer that is rapidly approaching the end of its life. The cooler no longer cools, and the freezer must be checked daily to make sure its still keeping items solid, Gentry said.

The freezers up and running, but its in bad shape, she said.

The cooler is another matter. Its good only for storing non-perishables.

I have tomatoes coming in Thursday, and Ill have to give them out right away, Gentry said.

The answer to the cooler-freezer problem is a new unit. The answer to the storage problem is a new


A $14,442 grant from the Ford Family Foundation will help pay for the freezer. Gentry said money has been raised from local donors, but another $21,000 is needed to purchase the unit.

We will do some fund-raising and look for additional grants, she said. Wed like to have some community volunteers help with fund-raising ideas.

Community Connection, which runs the food bank, is looking for buildings, but as with the freezer, enough money may be hard to find.

We have a couple of buildings in mind, but its either money or other issues, Gentry said. We have to find something that suits our needs, because well be there for some time.