Food Pantry Expects to Serve Record Number in November

Increased need during the holidays means many anxious residents, director says.

The is bracing for what it expects will be a record number of people in need coming through its doors this month.

“It will be off the charts,” Director Cynthia Carranza said of what she anticipates seeing between now and the end of the year as struggling residents stock up on food for everyday meals as well as for the holidays. "I can't even imagine what it will be."

As the pantry readied itself to bag Thanksgiving food with the help of volunteers last week, Carranza talked about the unprecedented need she’s seeing in the community. As she spoke, her phone rang non-stop with people asking what would be available for Thanksgiving and needing reassurance that their Thanksgiving food wouldn’t count against their regular number of monthly pick-ups.

Carranza is no doubt not alone in what she’s seeing in Niles Township. The national non-profit Feeding America estimates that 48 percent of all clients served at food pantries live in suburban and rural areas. And, according to the Food Research Action Center, nearly 1 in 4 families with children is experiencing hunger.

"It will be off the charts. ... I can't even imagine what it will be."

Last November, the food pantry served 1,769 households, which accounted for 4,214 individuals, Carranza said. In the first 10 days of this month, it served 935 households. This comes after a record-breaking October, during which the pantry served 1,353 households, which was the most ever in a non-holiday month.

Another challenge right now, Carranza said, is that she’s seeing more food drives than ever before, which are coming at the expense of monetary donations.

Food drives are “a wonderful bonus” and much appreciated, she said, but she can’t rely on them to stock the pantry’s shelves and freezers each day. Monetary donations allow her to buy food in bulk at significant discounts.

The increase in food drives is happening, she believes, because, “people are afraid to let go of their money. … They’re saying, ‘We still want to help you. We still care and we’ll help you this way.’”

She said she feels supported by the Township, and that Lee Tamraz, Niles Township Supervisor, has assured her that the township understands the need and will find a way to keep feeding people.

Gilbert R Albright Jr November 24, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Hey FREE anything usually attracts large numbers of people!
Pat Craig November 24, 2011 at 09:10 PM
There is no question that in these tough economic times there is a real need for families in distress to look for help. Those of us who do not face this type of distress surely have reason to feel thankful and should realize that not everybody in need is looking to suck up "freebies". I do, however, question why a subdivision of government, (a sub-division that is much like the appendix... an anachronism that seemingly serves no necessary purpose), is in the charity business. I further wonder why, if the food pantry is a part of Niles Township government, why it is soliciting monetary donations. Does the township not already receive mandatory monetary donations in the form of taxes? Perhaps the truly necessary function of a food pantry would be better administered by the multitude of religious institutions in our area instead of feeding an expanding political bureaucracy.


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