Get out the check book — local food banks need your help. (Actually, every food bank in the country does, according to the New York Times. Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America’s Second Harvest, which distributes more than two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually, said the shortages at food banks were the worst the organization had seen in 26 years.)

In Tarrant County, donations are down 50 percent from last year at the Tarrant Area Food Bank. Demand, meanwhile, is up 20 percent at the North Texas Food Bank. (You can donate cash or food at either web site.)

There are any number of reasons for the shortages — the higher cost of food, cuts in federal aid, an increase in needy families, and fewer donations from supermarkets, warehouse stores, and the like. Those companies, thanks to better inventory controls, have less excess food to donate. In addition, they sell much of what’s leftover to discount and dollar stores instead of donating it.