Food Pantries See Increase in People During Summer Months
High energy bills force people to get free food from area pantries
Pay your energy bill or buy groceries? People are heading to the food pantries so they can pay their energy bills. Video by kmtv.comvideo
Omaha, NE - Local food pantries can't keep enough food on their shelves. "That should last us, if we stretch it out, I would say about two weeks," Marta Buchanan said.
As temperatures climb, so do the number of people in need. With record heat more residents like Marta Buchanan are cranking up the air conditioning to keep cool. Buchanan says her $118 energy bill takes away from her grocery budget. "Right now the bill has been due so i'm hoping they'll let me wait for a little bit longer," Buchanan said.
"Families are paying their utility bills but if that's taking away from their food budget we're seeing them walk through our doors, a lot of families for the first time cause they have to make sure they're providing food for their families," said Marilyn Sim with Catholic Charities.
The scene is similar at the Heartland Hope Mission. Dozens of people wait patiently to get some much needed food. Organizers work quickly to hand it out before the heat ruins fresh fruits and vegetables. The air conditioning at the food pantry just went out. "We've had issues with our refrigerators our freezers shutting down and that makes it really tough for us to serve the people in need," Çhelsea Salifou said.
To make matters worse, charities are receiving fewer donations from farmers because of the drought conditions. Volunteers say donations are needed now more than ever.