Does political fundraising hurt food banks?

Does political fundraising hurt food banks?

EUGENE, Ore. - A Portland charity manager believes more people are forsaking donations to local food banks and giving instead to politics.

KVAL News asked local charities if they see a similar shift here.

Donations are the fuel for the food box programs at the Saint Vincent de Paul Lindholm pantry and at Food for Lane County. Last year, Food for Lane County alone distributed more than 7.5 million pounds of food to the hungry.

"The need is not going away. We know that. We're still in a slow recovery period," said Dawn Marie Woodward, spokeswoman for Food for Lane County.

Judy Alley, Portland manager of Snow-Cap Community Charities, said their job is made tougher by the 2012 presidential election. She said on a recent CBS Evening News story that people's political donations are hurting donations to food banks.

So what's really going on?

Are more people ditching local food charities to make contributions to political candidates?  

The boss at St. Vincent de Paul in Eugene thinks not.

"Of course we have a number of donations coming in each month," Terry McDonald told KVAL News, "but only one person has indicated they're putting money into politics and not into emergency services."

McDonald and Woodward both agree the greater concern is what may happen after the November election.

"That may be where we see it. We may see that people have given what they're giving and won't have anything to give us," Woodward said.

However, she points out that in 2008, the economy was tanking, it was a presidential election year, and donors stepped up to support local food programs.

She hopes it happens again.  

"Support what you believe in and move forward," McDonald suggest, "but understand that there are also continuing needs in your local community."