Barbara Lee, director of the Salvation Army, picked up a bottle of water Tuesday afternoon, disappointment written all over her face. It was the only bottle in a food box prepared to go out today when someone comes to ask.
"One bottle, for a family of four?" she asked.
The boxes have been getting smaller lately — normally 70 to 80 pounds and filled with canned goods, the boxes have been trimmed to 40 pounds with one or two cans of vegetables, one bottled drink, some pasta and whatever else can be scrounged off the pantry shelves.
And the demand for food assistance continues to rise.
"People are coming in and saying they have been cut on food stamps," Lee said. "We are running out of money to replenish our shelves. … The SNAP cuts are going to hurt, and we are going to really feel that."
Thtat's why this winter's annual Harvest of Love, an effort of the Newton Ministerial Alliance, is so important.
The effort kicked off Nov. 1 and will continue through December. The goal, according to treasurer Heidi Regier Kreider, is 30,000 pounds of food and $30,000 in cash.
Donations can be taken to the Salvation Army office at 208 E. Sixth Street.
"The food pantry has been low on supplies for quite a while," Regier Kreider said. "We have had to use other emergency funds to buy food in the pantry, which means those other needs are not getting met."
The alliance set the same goals for 2013 which were in place for 2012. One year ago collections were a bit below the goal for food poundage, but the financial gifts hit the $30,000 target.
Some churches have already started giving — donations came to the Salvation Army this week in the form of food items.
But there is a long way to go.
"We hope to raise funds and food to stock up for the year," Regier Kreider said. "This is our big fund-raiser for the year."