More residents utilizing food banks and thrift stores

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Frances Vanderford of Clovis shops at the Goodwill store on Thursday. She said she frequently shops at Goodwill because she can buy more with her money there.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

To stretch her dollars, Frances Vanderford said she shops at the Goodwill thrift store about twice a week.

“I can stretch my $20 here than going to the mall and Wal-Mart,” she said.

Facing high fuel prices and a slow economy, Clovis consumers are turning to thrift stores and food programs to make the most of their money, according to Clovis thrift store and food bank officials.

Alva Lucero, Clovis Goodwill store manager, said she has seen a 35 percent to 45 percent rise in the number of people walking into her store.

Goodwill Marketing Director Shauna O’Cleireachain said the slow economy has played a part in the rise of people shopping at thrift stores.

“Some of the customers do come in and they talk about (shopping in thrift stores) not only because of the prices of gas but because of the economy,” Lucero said. “They have to watch how they spend their money and where they spend it at, and they seem to like coming to second-hand stores just enough to get that dollar stretched out.”

The thrift store sells donated, second-hand goods including clothing and furniture, according to Lucero. She said she hasn’t seen a decrease in donations.

Carl Deaton, who runs the food pantry at Central Baptist Church, said he’s noticed more people signed up to receive food.

He said the number of people the charity serves normally fluctuates between 30 to 70 a month. But in the last few months he has seen the number grow to 50 to 55 people.

The church’s food program is supplied by the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico.

Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico Executive Director Nancy Taylor said her organization is seeing an increase in the number of agencies operating food pantries, which provide food to the needy and elderly.

“The agencies are seeing the need and developing a program within their church or within their civic organizations to help feed the families that are in need,” Taylor said.

Food bank inventory director Ledean Jameson said the organization serves 88 community agencies with food programs, 11 of them started this year. She said the food bank usually serves about three to four new agencies a year.

But as the demand for food programs increases, the supplies are dwindling, Taylor said. She also noted donations are down.

Jameson said the food bank distributed 584,252 pounds of food during the first eight months last year. This year she said the food bank has distributed 345,000.

“There is less food being shared amongst food banks because there’s just less coming in,” she said.