Food pantries see growing demandHunger in Jamestown is becoming more commonplace and at the same time donations to food pantries to feed those mouths are decreasing. “We’ll always have food but with the need growing it’s kind of scary,” said RaeAnn Kracht, food pantry coordinator for Community Action Region VI.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Hunger in Jamestown is becoming more commonplace and at the same time donations to food pantries to feed those mouths are decreasing.
“We’ll always have food but with the need growing it’s kind of scary,” said RaeAnn Kracht, food pantry coordinator for Community Action Region VI.
The pantry at Community Action in Jamestown has food but last October it had twice as much.
Currently the pantry serves about 120 families a month but Kracht said that number has been growing, sometimes by as much as 25 percent in a month.
“I’m seeing more new clients,” she said. “You have your regulars that can’t meet their needs but there are so many that are new.”
Kracht said there are families that come to Jamestown from out of state hoping to find work but don’t. Some people looking for work in the Oil Patch can’t find housing so they end up coming to Jamestown.
According to North Dakota Job Service in Jamestown, the unemployment rate for Stutsman County in February was 4.8 percent.
“If funds and donations decline due to budgets being cut, the rise in gas and food prices, jobs being cut, etc., our clients will also be affected,” Kracht said. “We will no longer be able to give or serve like we currently do with all of our programs. Food basket sizes will decrease and people will once again go hungry.”
Community Action likes to give families enough food for one to two weeks, she said. If donations continue to drop while the need grows that time period might decrease to three or five days.
“We could try to find grants out there to buy the needed food for our clients but grants tend to dry up fast also when everyone will be looking for the same,” Kracht said.
The other food pantry in town — the Salvation Army — is also looking for donations, said Lt. Mitch Brecto.
A recent food drive by the Cub Scouts brought in close to 1,000 pounds and a U.S. Postal Service food drive is planned for May is expected to bring in thousands of pounds. Still, it’s not enough, Brecto said.
“Our concerns are just making sure people that are in need get the required food,” he said.
While there is a need for food in all year round, most donations come in during the holidays and decrease after that, Brecto said.
It’s not just food items that are needed. Both pantries accept donations of toiletries, like shaving cream and shampoo.
“If people are looking for jobs we want them to be presentable,” Brecto said.
The community does help. Several local churches give monthly donations to the Salvation Army, and Walmart donates day-old bread and frozen meat products to Community Action.
It’s still not enough to meet the growing needs of the community.
“When our pantry is lower it means sometimes we have to offer less,” Brecto said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com