Food pantries in need of donations

Tuesday, April 29th 2008, 7:21 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

Economic woes have some middle class Oklahomans receiving more than they are giving. Instead of donating to food pantries, some locals are forced to find a good meal there instead.

On Monday, the Salvation Army food pantry gave away items to 167 people.

Terry Westbrook sais he has to make the choice between gas and a good meal these days. Normally, he would depend on family members or friends who were in a better financial position. But those family members are also turning to the state for help now.

"Generally, that's been coming up," Westbrook said. "People I never imagined [are now] the need to where they have to [ask for help]."

Antoinette Sanders, director of the social services with the Salvation Army, said that even on delivery day for food, some shelves remained empty. Donations to the pantry are down and Sanders said the weekly food purchases have doubled in recent months.

"We've gone from $1,000 per week for food up to $2,000 or maybe even up to $2,500 per week for food and still at that hoping it will hold us," Sanders said.

Each family generally gets one to three bags of staples: a bag of bread and another bag of frozen foods. The staples are supposed to last for about 14 days. Sometimes it doesn't and because of the increased demand, the pantry has had to temporarily close its doors. Sanders is unsettled by the uncertainty.

"I have no idea," Sanders said. "I have no idea what's going on now."

Sanders said she noticed an increase in food distribution during the holidays, but around that time, the shelves were stocked from public donations. But she said people are hungry all year long.

In response to the growing hunger problem, NEWS 9 and the CBS Early Show are working to help food banks restock their shelves.

NEWS 9 will be collecting non-perishable foods until May 10, when the nation's largest single-day food drive, "Stamp Out Hunger," will take place.