LAWRENCE - A food pantry in Lawrence has seen their customers grow by 1,000% compared to last year. Now, they are struggling to keep anything on the shelf.
"Last February into March was the first big increase that we saw," said Jessica Perreault-Gordon, executive director of Bread and Roses Pantry. "We believe it was tied to the pandemic SNAP benefits that ended earlier than they were supposed to end. After that, our numbers grew exponentially."
Last month, the food pantry gave out 140,000 pounds of food, but it only received 100,000 pounds in donations. For the first time since the pantry opened in 1980, organizers had to dip into its reserve inventory. Now the basement is bare. The pantry also serves meals five nights a week, and now that food is being used for the pantry. Organizers expect a growing demand for the rest of the holiday season.
"Right now, we are at the point that we are purchasing food because we don't have enough food," said Perreault-Gordon.
To replenish stock, the food pantry is relying on rescuing food from local businesses.
"Businesses throw away food that's very close to its expiration date, and most of them benefit because they also receive a tax write-off for it," explains Perreault-Gordon. "We have about a 24-to-72-hour turn around time to get it and distribute it back to the community."
Some of the rescued food has been going to replenish what has been taken from the stock originally used for the night time meals. The pantry just received a donation from the Eagle-Tribune food drive, but organizers expect that to be gone within a week.
"We need to be able to rescue food from more businesses, and certainly, donations help," asks Perreault-Gordon.
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