Drought impacting fresh produce available for needy at food banks

- The four-year drought is taking its toll on the local food supply for those most in need. Bay Area food banks say they are seeing shortages, especially in some fresh vegetables.

"The broccoli. The cauliflower; I love the cauliflower," said Oakland resident Tina Ray, naming vegetables she rarely sees anymore at the Columbian Gardens Food Pantry in East Oakland. Ray gets most of her groceries there to help make ends meet.

"It hurts me, because I'm not getting the nourishment I need at my age. You need that when you get elderly," she said.

Columbian Gardens gets its food from the Alameda County Food Bank.

The food bank says shipments of broccoli and cauliflower have all but dried up.

The reason is the drought.

"The drought is definitely affecting food banks, especially ours," said Michael Altfest, spokesman for the food bank.

Central Valley famers haven't been able to grow as many vegetables. So down the pipeline, food banks across the Bay Area are seeing shortages of what used to be staples. 

Making matters worse, what is available is more expensive.

"The cost of produce has gone up a cent a pound. That might not sound like much but when you are buying 10 million pounds that's $200,000," said Altfest.

Food banks say the economy is forcing more and more people to the financial edge.

With supply low, demand high and Thanksgiving about a month away, food banks say they have no idea what to expect this holiday season.

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