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Finding Food (Even Filet Mignon) During A Week Without Power

It has been about a week since a gigantic wind storm tore through the Mid-Atlantic, leaving millions without electricity in its tattered wake. By now much of the debris has been cleared, but Reuters reports that 500,000 Americans are still without power, which of course is keeping many people out of their kitchens.

So here at The Salt, we can't help but wonder: How have all these people without power been feeding themselves for the past week?

Some, it turns out, are seeking out sustenance at their local food pantries and soup kitchens.

"We have had an increase in demand. A lot of folks are just looking for a cool place to eat and relax," says Tracey Dixon, director of Lynchburg Daily Bread, a soup kitchen in Lynchburg, Va., where 23,000 people are still reportedly without power. "A couple of folks we'd see only once or twice a month are here every day since the power outage."

The storm was far from the worst in recent memory. But many grocery stores and restaurants in the region were forced to close their doors until the power came back on.

For Dixon, this meant lots of donations to the Daily Bread's nearly-empty freezers.

"The power outage comes and knocks out power to more than half the city, and then our donors started bringing the stuff from their freezers to us ... even filet mignon!" she says.

A television station in nearby Charlottesville reports that that county is also taking steps to make sure that people who rely on food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, receive aid to replace food lost in this week's power outage.

Luckily, the Lynchburg soup kitchen had electricity to power the freezers and refrigerators for the last week. However, staff say they have not been so fortunate.

"It's been a nightmare," says staff member Marty Pierce. Pierce and his 84-year-old mother have been without power since last Friday night.

He says his mother has been able to stay with some friends from church, where she's been enjoying home-cooked meals in the air conditioning. Unfortunately, no such luck for Pierce.

"I didn't have any friends who had power, but I had friends who had a basement and swimming pool so I stayed there," he says.

And those home-cooked meals aren't happening either. "I've been eating fast food, and that's all I've been doing," says Pierce. "Nobody here wants to cook anything because it's been so hot."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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