Shelves are bare

Published 7:25 am Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looking at the few cans of green beans sitting on the shelves of DHR’s food bank was a sad sight for director Florence Mitchell.

But, it is not as sad as turning away the hungry.

“We don’t have anything we can give them but green beans, and we still give the green beans to people who want them, but it’s just kind of sad,” Mitchell said.

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As the holiday season draws near, Mitchell said the Pike County Department of Human Resources likes to be a source of food donations for those who cannot afford basic necessities, but unless something changes fast that won’t happen this year.

And while DHR’s food banks may be hurting the worst for donations, the agency is not alone in feeling the impact of a slow economy.

The Salvation Army’s food bank is stocked, but employees said it is the lowest it has ever been.

“Usually you can’t see the walls,” said Traci Renfroe, a Salvation Army employee, as she looked at gaps in the food bank’s shelves.

Mitchell said for the last few months, the food bank supply has been dwindling at DHR, without many offers to fill it up.

“Usually we have people calling and asking if they can bring us food, and I’ve been pretty surprised,” Mitchell said.

Of the 30,000 people in Pike County, Mitchell said an average of 2,526 families receive food stamps from DHR each month. Recently, many more have applied for the aid.

“We’ve had an increase of applicants actually in the food stamp area, and most of them have not been eligible,” Mitchell said.

“But, I think people are really feeling the crunch right now.”

Salvation Army Director Kim May said she, too, has seen an increase in people seeking food, in a time where they have not received as many donations as they typically do.

Normally, two to three people come in the Salvation Army each day requesting donations, but one day, May said as many as 10 came.

“It has increased lately because of the hardships people have been facing, and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” May said.

Nonetheless, May said she is hopeful things will improve before the holiday season hits.

“This is the time of the year when we start getting donations,” May said.

Both local food banks will accept donations for the holiday season. May said dry goods and canned meats are a particular need at the Salvation Army food bank.