Summer brings more needs to food pantriesWith summer vacation season soon beginning, children from low-income families will no longer have access to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch meals at school. This could add more pressure on the local food pantries at The Salvation Army and Community Action Region VI.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
With summer vacation season soon beginning, children from low-income families will no longer have access to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch meals at school. This could add more pressure on the local food pantries at The Salvation Army and Community Action Region VI.
The Jamestown Salvation Army has already seen a 50 percent jump in service, from 544 people served for the first time in 2010 to almost 1,200 people served for the first time in 2012.
The summer months not only keep children at home, but the obstacles of oncoming heat and additional transients coming into the area puts added pressure on the need for services as well.
“I don’t know if we’ve seen a 50 percent increase here, but certainly 10 to 20 percent would be pretty accurate,” said Kathy Williams, executive director of Community Action Region VI, which is a nonprofit organization that provides services to low-income, disabled and elderly households in nine counties — Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells.
Williams said that with more transients coming through and a stream of movement during the summer months, individuals typically seek help through rent assistance and deposits for moving.
“We work together with The Salvation Army to help these people and provide as much funding as we can, but the reality is we do have a budget and do rely on donations as well,” she said.
Travelers are not just vacationing, but are going from town to town looking for work as well, according to Lt. Mitch Brecto, leader of the Jamestown Salvation Army.
“We do our best to take care of those people that are in need and provide them those kinds of travel foods that will get them to the next city and so forth,” he said.
Now is the best time for individuals who can donate items and funds to do so, Brecto said.
“In order to offset the pending increase in need at our food shelf, The Salvation Army needs help from the community,” he said. “Last year we were severely low with our donations unfortunately and it gets to be even more difficult this time of year.”
Williams said each year’s demand for food and services is different, though.
“It’s just going to depend on the amount of movement we see in these coming months,” she said. “There has been an impact of the western part of the state regarding people who have gone out to seek employment or housing and have come back to this region.”
Some individuals, especially the elderly, also rely on Community Action and The Salvation Army to provide relief from the heat.
“Some just need assistance getting indoors, out of the heat and into some air conditioning,” Williams said.
Brecto said very warm weather certainly plays a significant role, just as the cold does during the winter season.
“It’s probably the worst off for our elderly, as it’s hard for them to get out and get to the grocery store during the heat,” he said. “And yet it’s so important they continue to stay hydrated and get the nutritious food they need.”
The summer months prove to be a trying time not just here locally, but it has been seen around the Minnesota-North Dakota region as well, according to Lt. Col. Daniel Sjogren, commander of The Salvation Army Northern Division.
“We have seen a marked increase in visit to food shelves all across the division,” he said. “It’s been extremely challenging and we’re constantly trying to find new resources and looking for creative ways to generate funding.”
In 2011, nearly 100,000 Minnesota and North Dakota families used a Salvation Army food shelf, according to Sjogren. He said that in addition to food needs, lodging has also become a concern for many during these summer months.
Williams said the ongoing need for local assistance and services will probably continue.
“I really don’t see that need slowing down at all,” she said.
For more information on The Salvation Army, visit www.thesalarmy.org. For more information on Community Action Region VI, visit www.cap6.com.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org