Food Pantries Face Donation Shortages, Growing Demand

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By Matthew Searcy

WSIL -- It's a difficult time of year for those who feed the needy. Donations that piled up during the holiday season are nearly gone. 

"About a month ago we realized we were running through our surplus fast and would have problems in the summer," said Reverend Troy Benitone with the Herrin House of Hope.  
 
Rising food costs and a lack of donations are just some of his concerns.  
 
"The problem is we are feeding adults now, but soon we are going to start feeding children," explained Benitone.  
     
Kids out of school means more mouths to feed.       
 
"When school lets out, it will up our numbers by 30 or 40 percent instantly," said Benitone.  
 
Herrin House of Hope has had to reduce its daily lunches from 5 days a week to 2 days just to compensate. 
 
"It's kind of a feast and famine existence for us," said J.R. Russell with the Marion Ministerial Alliance. "Donations will go up and down through the seasons, but our demand stays pretty consistent year round." 
 
The pantry has gone from receiving four or five donations a day in December to receivng two or three donations a week this spring.   
 
"The St. Louis Area Foodbank, where we get our commodities from, they are approaching the end of their fiscal year which means their delivers tend to drop off," explained Russell.   
 
He's asking for more donations from the public. Items like macaroni, peanut butter and soups are much needed. 
 
For Benitone, monetary donations are his greatest concern, "Once we can get our monthly expenses met and we get help from the food bank, we want to go back to a five day a week operation." 
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