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      Harvest Hope Food Bank running on empty

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Harvest Hope Food Bank has been helping people in need for years, and right now the agency could use some help of its own.

      Food supplies are at critical lows, and workers are struggling to keep items on the shelves for an increasing amount of clients looking for assistance.

      The summer months always see a high demand due to more children being out of school, but with South Carolina's jobless rate ticking up again, a number of factors are sending the food bank near the danger zone.

      "We bring it in and as soon as we bring it in we give it back out," said Maggie Knowles of Harvest Hope. "So it's really a day in and day out situation and we're trying to get together the best package we can for all of our clients."

      Clients like Albony Zucker are happy for the help. Tuesday's visit to the food bank wasn't the first for Zucker, and it may not be the last for the unemployed mother of two.

      "It's very helpful for people that's in need," said Zucker. "It's very helpful to come here and get some food if you're struggling and all of that."

      Harvest Hope serves 20 counties and agency officials say that roughly 350 families are being served each and every day. That's an uptick of about 100 families daily, creating an enormous strain on supplies.

      The greatest need right now is meat. The freezer is nearly barren, just like so many other areas of Harvest Hope's warehouse. All that empty space is begging to be filled during what Maggie Knowles says is the worst time she's seen in her five years at the agency.

      "The staff asks us all the time. They're scared to give it out because they're scared once they give it out that there won't be anything coming in behind it," said Knowles. "We just tell them you have to have faith that when the trucks come in this afternoon there's going to be more food on it for tomorrow."

      That's something people like Albony Zucker are also counting on so she can keep feeding her children.

      The Harvest Hope Food Bank is still getting plenty of volunteer help, but could always use more. They are also asking the community for food donations and monetary contributions. If you would like to help click here.