CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Rising food prices are causing concerns for area food banks, including the Centre County YMCA’s Anti-Hunger Program.

Director Mel Curtis said there’s more demand for their school backpack program than ever, bringing a hefty price tag along with the need.

“When we’re walking in and dropping an excess of $4,500 a week to purchase food, it starts to take a toll very, very quickly,” Curtis said.

Curtis said the backpack program provides food for almost 1,300 students in need throughout the county.

“Most people go to the grocery store, they’re buying one or two items,” Curtis said. “Whereas, we’re walking in and ordering 1,300 items of each. Some items we’re ordering 2,600 of each.”

To help continue their work, the YMCA is launching fundraisers to benefit the backpack program. Some are familiar, like the Polar Plunge challenge happening on Dec. 2, while others are new.

Curtis said cookie jars are being placed at different schools, businesses and the YMCA branches around the county. The idea behind the jars is to place a dollar, or more, inside as a donation to the backpack program.

“The first day when we put one up here at the Y, we had an excess of over $50.00 in the first hour and a half,” Curtis said.

The YMCA is also currently accepting donations for their Thanksgiving and Christmas Blessings in a Box program. 300 boxes will be filled with shelf-stable food. You can call the Moshannon Valley YMCA at 814-342-0889 Monday through Friday to participate. The deadline to sign up is Nov. 13.

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“Not everyone has a large oven so this year, what we’re doing is we’re getting local grocery store cards, gift cards, and we’re putting those in the box so the family can go pick out the meat that they want,” Curtis said.

If you’re interested in learning more about these programs or how you can help, click here.