By Ron VandenBoom
The feel of hunger can gnaw at more than a stomach.
It can also gnaws at self-worth, determination, ambition, and enthusiasm for life.
To a child it gnaws at what will someday be childhood memories. It gnaws at their ability to learn and their dreams for the future.
To Cyndi Murphy, executive director at the North Havre Food Bank, the gnawing stops at the front door.
I hand out more than 100 food boxes per month, she said. Thats figured out to 3.75 people per box.
It is a number that has grown steadily over the years as the work of the Food Bank never seems to end.
More than 63,000 pounds of food were handed out to hungry patrons in 1997 only to find the number rise to more than 93,000 pounds in 1998.
So far, Murphy said the number of pounds handed out through July 1999 is more than 40,500 pounds.
More people visiting today are new people that have never been here before, Murphy said. About half so far this month have been new.
Donations, meanwhile, have remained about the same with only a slight decrease in the amount of fresh produce being donated to the bank.
Cash donations are also down this year, Murphy said.
Most of the clients that come through the door are working people, Murphy said. They are doing what they can to support their families, but most work low paying minimum wage jobs that just dont provide enough money.
The Food Bank is asking for $7,500 from the United Way.
The funds it receives are used to pay the insurance, utilities, and a stipend for one part-time employee.
None of the United Way money goes to buy food, Murphy said. This means that every dollar that comes to the Food Bank through public donations is used only for food that goes directly to help people. None goes into building upkeep.
Murphy said if they had to depend on public donations to pay the power bill or if the public thought their donation was going for somebodys wages, they would be less likely to contribute. This way the public knows all of its donations go directly for the purchase of food.
Its the help the Food Bank receives from the United Way that makes it all possible, Murphy said. They are the meat and potatoes we need to survive so we can help the people that need meat and potatoes.