Local food pantries seeing more families

Wednesday, October 15th 2008, 6:27 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The roller coaster ride on Wall Street has causing tough times for many Oklahoma families.

As the cost of bills continues to increase, some families are having problems putting food on their table and many have turned to places they never thought they would go for help.

The Salvation Army has experienced an increase of requested assistance from more middle-class families who have felt the wave of an economic decline.

"The people we see are the working poor," said Heidi Brandes of the Salvation Army. "These are people with jobs, they've got homes, they've got children, they've got bills, but they can't get that dollar to stretch far enough."

Working families are struggling to stretch the dollar and stay afloat. With high fuel, food and electric bills, Brandes said they're seeing more new families come to them for help.

"Now we're starting to see lower middle class and people who'd never have to turn to a charity before," Brandes said.

Brandes said it's been a harsh reality for many families who are already working several jobs to feed their families. As a result, the pantry's supply is running low.

"Our donors who normally give $50 a month, now they're giving $25 a month," Brandes said. "We're seeing more and more people with lower funds."

As the winter weather approaches and the economic downturn continues, more donations are in demand.

"Unfortunately, our donors are also feeling the pinch," Brandes said. "They're paying higher gas prices, higher prices all around, the economy is really scaring a lot of folks."

Officials at local food banks said they're seeing a 50 percent increase in serving families in need, and their biggest worry now is turning people away because they're short on supplies.

One local non-profit group, Hands of Help, has seen over 300 new families in one month.