Diesel Prices Hurting Food Banks

JONESBORO, AR -- (KAIT) -- Unfortunately, as diesel prices go up, it's keeping the amount of food on food bank shelves across the nation down.

It's a nationwide trend--effecting our food bank here in Jonesboro and the numerous counties it serves as well.

"To drive from a place like Forrest City to here to get food, with the way gas prices are right now, it's just not feasible for someone on a very fixed budget," said Tony Birdyshaw.

So the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas makes it a little easier.

It serves a twelve county area, and the food bank in Norfork which serves an additional 9 counties.

"We are basically the warehouse. We secure food from all over the United States into this facility. Then we get the food out to all the pantries in the counties," said Burdyshaw.

For 15 years, Tony Burdyshaw has worked at the food bank in Jonesboro.

Initially, you may see this warehouse and see boxes of food stacked to the ceiling, but if you can  look closer, you'll notice gaping holes where boxes of food used to be.

They are spots that Tony says are getting more expensive to fill and refill.

"I  paid 79.9 in 2000 for a gallon if diesel, and the last time I bought it, it was 392.9 a gallon," said Birdyshaw.

A truck that helps pick up food to fill the warehouse, and delivers food across Northeast Arkansas to pantries and other programs that provide food for those in need.

"That truck rolls pretty well five days a week," said Birdyshaw.

"Each time that vehicle leaves, that's money that we can't spend to purchase food or to pay for trucking for a donation," said Birdyshaw.

The best Tony can hope for now is that diesel prices will at least level, if not go down.

He is convinced no matter how high the price of diesel soars, the food bank's service will not suffer and it won't let down the people who need the food most.

He says he never questions how miracles sometimes happen, he's just thankful they do.

"People just understand that they need it, and it just happens.....it doesn't mean though that we don't sweat bullets waiting on it but," said Birdyshaw.