A number of the white shelves that are normally stocked with canned foods and dry goods at the Newton Salvation Army food pantry are looking bare. Pantry organizers are worried they might not be refilled anytime soon, which could become a serious issue.
Salvation Army case manger Kelly Zach said in July, the office served 899 clients and 368 families. As of Thursday, she said they’ve served 665 clients and 247 families all over Jasper County.
“It’s usually higher in the summer time. It’s normal to see spikes of requests for services in the summer time. But it’s not necessarily normal for our shelves to be that bare,” said Major Mikey Carter, of the Salvation Army.
Carter attributes a number of factors as to why so many people have needed the food pantry’s services as of late.
“With kids being out of school — even though they may have participated in the free lunch program that ran part of the summer — they are still eating more snacks or meals throughout the day at home,” Carter said.
She also knows that this year’s unpredictable weather has led to an increase in utility bills.
“People that were anticipating that their utility bills would decrease are still catching up from higher winter bills. Their budgets are still trying to catch up,” she said.
Another reason could be from people moving from one location to another location in the county, Carter said.
“Anytime you move, even if its in the same general area, there is still additional costs with security deposits or household items that they need to replace. With the cost of setting up a new household, the food dollars have maybe had to be used for the utility bills or the household needs,” Carter said.
Zach added that when the 2014 Farm Bill passed, people who received food stamps got $11 less than what they were previously getting. Carter said while they may not sound like a lot to most people, with the price of groceries continuing to rise, it can make a significant difference in people’s meal planning budget.
With the shelves in their current condition, Carter said they can only manage to keep supplying people for a few more weeks, and it won’t be at the level of service they have come to depend on.
“Most of them will be receiving fewer amounts of product and fewer sources of protein. (We’ll) still give the canned protein, the tuna or the beans, but not the frozen meat,” Carter said.
Ed Poe handles coordination duty for the pantry and he has a list of things they need. Poe said boxed macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna and chicken, cereal, oatmeal and cans of chicken noodle soup are the most needed things on that list.
“Most of the people that request services, they’re not looking for fancy — they’re looking for something to get through the month,” Carter said.
If you would like to donate to the food pantry the Salvation Army is located 301 N. Second Ave. E. or call (641) 792-6131.
Contact Senior Staff Writer Ty Rushing at (641) 792-3121 ext. 6532 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.