‘Tremendous’ increases at parish food pantries

As government leaders continue to address crises in the national economy, parish food pantries in the Diocese of Peoria are seeing higher numbers of people in need of their services.

The Peoria Area Food Bank, which supplies food to 125 pantries in eight counties, has seen a minimum of a 25 percent increase in demand since July, according to Barb Shreves, director.

“Many of our food pantries are reporting as high as 50 percent increases,” Shreves told The Post.

“These are people who have never had to go to a food pantry before,” she said. “Thank God that we have pantries to help these people. If it wasn’t for them, I really don’t know what they would do.”

The emergency food pantry operated in Peoria by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria is also seeing higher numbers of people in need, but the economic downturn has not caused a sharp spike.

“It hasn’t been a huge jump in the last two months,” said Tony Riordan, Catholic Charities associate director. Instead, “there has been a steady increase over time.”

“We have experienced an increase in (food pantry use), especially in the past year. Usage there is usually toward the end of the month, as people need to tide things over till their next paycheck,” he said.

“For us the population we serve has been the most poor and most vulnerable. They’re really getting slapped,” said Riordan.

At this time the recession does not seem to have led to a great drop in donations to Catholic Charities.

“People are still trying to be as generous as possible,” said Riordan. “We have a very caring base of loyal donors and supporters.”

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