The Worst Of Times

Food Runs Dry At Salvation Army, Emergency Drive Planned

Posted: September 21, 2013

Just four cans of spaghetti sauce remain at the Salvation Army’s food pantry in Harrisonburg on Friday. An emergency food drive will be held next week to restock the empty shelves of the pantry. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — Despite improving economic conditions overall, officials with the Harrisonburg Salvation Army are finding their food pantry in the worst shape it’s ever been.


Capt. Duane Burleigh, who heads up the branch, said the pantry went dry Friday, save a few bags of macaroni and cheese and some cans of spaghetti sauce.


“It’s never been this bad.


before, and I think a lot of it’s because we’re seeing more and more people now needing food,” he said, adding that the nonprofit has been providing meals to more than 700 families a month, half of whom are new to the pantry.


Using what little food funds the organization has left, Burleigh said he ordered food from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network for distribution Monday, but it won’t be enough to last through the week.


Harrisonburg resident James “Bucky” Berry, a beneficiary-turned-benefactor of the Salvation Army, saw how bare the shelves were Thursday evening and decided to hold an emergency food drive.


Nonperishable goods will be collected at Red Front Supermarket on Chicago Avenue from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 28.


Berry also arranged for funds to be donated from the Brent Berry Family Fund to help hold the Salvation Army over.


“It breaks my heart, that thing being empty like that,” Berry said, adding that 46 families sought food from the pantry in two days this week.


Burleigh said the food pantry has seen increased demand in recent months, and it came at an inopportune time for the organization.


“We’re in a transition period from summer programming to we’re not quite in the winter programs. ... It’s just this year seems to be more critical than others,” he said. “The money is tight and the need has increased, and that’s not a good combination.”


The Salvation Army accepts donations, including money, at its facility at 185 Ashby Ave., Harrisonburg. Checks can be made payable to the organization, with a notation indicating the donation is for food.


Donations can be dropped off or mailed.


Burleigh said the headlines in the news saying the economy is improving don’t reflect what he’s seeing on the ground.


“They keep telling you it’s getting better, but we just don’t see it,” he said. “We’ve never had it this bad before, and it’s just because the need is so great.”


— Daily News-Record staff writer Alex Rohr contributed to this report.


Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or

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