The classic story of Old Mother Hubbard may need a rewrite — pull the dog and the old mother, insert a family needing food and Salvation Army volunteers staring at their empty cupboard.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 24 edition of the Kansan.The classic story of Old Mother Hubbard may need a rewrite — pull the dog and the old mother, insert a family needing food and Salvation Army volunteers staring at their empty cupboard.“There are very few bones in there to soak,” said Marcia Brazil about the Salvation Army food pantry on First Street. The pantry is bare — or as close to bare as anyone would ever want it to be. Thursday there were only 18 eggs in the fridge, and canned goods were spotty on the shelves. Vouchers for meat from Dillon’s have been gone for weeks, as the pantry’s bank account now is empty. “In 15 years, I’ve never seen it like this,” Brazil said.She’s putting out the call for help — the organization needs food for the shelves and cash for the bank account, and it simply can’t wait for the annual Harvest of Love Food Drive. The food drive will start in November with the same goals as a year ago — 50,000 pounds of food and $35,000 in cash. For those who want to donate now, the organization is accepting both food and cash donations at 315 N. Main. For more information, call the service office at 283-3190. “What I’m concerned about is we’re so low we’ll use up what we get before Christmas,” Brazil said. She said there are about 200 families with children already signed up for Christmas food packages, with another 50 couples or senior citizens on the list. With those kinds of numbers, Brazil said she’s concerned about what would happen if the organization ran out of food to give assistance with. There are two other food programs in town — and those would become quickly overburdened, Brazil said. “If we go down, it won’t take but a second until there is nothing anywhere,” Brazil said. “Two hundred families a month is not something they could absorb.”Brazil said a combination of factors has led to the bare shelves — cost of food, higher fuel prices and an increased need. “Demand has gone up,” Brazil said. “We used to do 80 families a month, and now we are doing 200 or more.”That increased demand, along with increased food prices and uncertain economic times, has led to the current shortage. It doesn’t help that last year the Harvest of Love food drive fell short — both in the amount of cash raised and the number of pounds of food collected. “That was the start of this,” Brazil said. “Groceries have gone up, as we all know when we go to the grocery store. Even with the cash we had, it costs us more to purchase things.”The food pantry is available for Harvey County residents, and those who get assistance can get help once every three months — meaning during a three-month period, the organization is helping about 600 families this year. “We try and give a week’s worth of groceries,” Brazil said. “Right now we are putting what we have in boxes ... And really, we don’t even have stuff for people to make a complete meal with.”