The shelves at local food pantries are running bare, resulting from low donations and high demand during the summer.
Summer is always a high-need time for food pantries, as low-income families who rely on free and reduced lunches at school must cope with hungry children at home. Late summer gets especially hard, as families must pay fees to enroll their children in school, a drain on tight finances.
Belleville's Community Interfaith Food Pantry received more than 60,000 pounds of food from two big food drives in May, but the group is running low this summer. In July, 540 families came to the pantry for help, feeding 814 adults and 475 children.
Of those, 74 families had never before sought assistance from the food pantry.
"Sometimes people come for an emergency, they come one or two months and they never come back. They got through their emergency situation," director Jerry Messick said.
The beginning of the month is easier, with food stamps, disability checks and Link cards coming in. By the end of the month, numbers jump drastically, Messick said.
This summer is about the same as last year, he said, leveling off after four years of steady increases in the tight economy. The increase can be as many as 80 families a month, he said.
"Right now, we're running out of so many things so fast," he said recently. "We just put the last four cases of sweet peas on the shelf."
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