Hunger: A Growing Problem in Sussex County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Hunger: A Growing Problem in Sussex County

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SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- Christmas is less than two weeks away, and for many, plans of elaborate recipes are already being made. But for many others, getting a meal during the holidays, as with any meal throughout the year, is a difficult task. Many food pantries told WBOC that this problem is far more than a "city problem."

This is something that Bryan Hecksher of the Auto Gallery in Lewes knows well. On Monday, he and his staff were loading dozens of boxes of food into a large van. The donations come from various companies such as Sign-A-Rama, The Pond, and Doggies at the Beach.

Hecksher's boxes were then taken to the Goshem Methodist Church in Milton, where the Milton Community Food Pantry, was collecting. Hecksher said many remain unaware of the growing problem in Sussex County.

"We have a lot of people that don't realize," he said. "Because we're in such an economic pocket of being so well down here. But hunger is closer than you think it is."

At the Milford office of the Delaware Food Bank, Branch Director Chad Robinson said that hunger is a consistent problem throughout the state. Robinson said the majority of the aide is given to New Castle County, however he said Sussex is increasingly needing more resources as well.

"I think when people think about what hunger looks like," he said. "They're not realizing - or they don't think I should say - that it looks just like we do. It looks just like the person down the street. Or the person they go to church with."

According to the Food Bank's statistics, 10.7 percent of Sussex County residents were "food insecure" in 2012. That phrase means that they do not know where they will receive their next meal. That number compared to just 10.1 percent in 2011. The bank also said that 53.7 percent of their food pantry programs in the county saw increases in demand for their services.

At the Goshem Methodist Church Rev. Dr. Diane Davis said that the donations were desperately needed. The Milton Community Food Pantry is a coalition made up of eight churches in the Milton area. Davis said that in just six months, the coalition has served more than 2,000 meals to those in the Milton area.

"I think that people look at Sussex County in this area as a beachy area," she said. "And we don't think of hunger in a beachy area... But people who live here struggle. Some do struggle."

WBOC also spoke with the Salvation Army, which said they have helped more than 450 families so far this month. Officials from the organization said that this number continues to rise each year in Sussex County.

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