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Area Food Pantries Overwhelmed By Weather-Related Demands, Now Need Public's Help

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A major supply shortage is sparking a quiet panic in parts of the Tri-State Area.

There's a food shortage impacting everyday families. As CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez reports, it's all about the weather.

The refrigerators and shelves are nearly empty at CUMAC in Paterson N.J., the largest food pantry in Passaic County.

"It's the nightmare of nightmares. You don't want to turn anybody away," CUMAC executive director Pat Bruger said.

CUMAC helps feed nearly 15,000 people a month, but Bruger said the growing demand from victims of recent storms has quickly eaten up their supplies – and the economy has taken a toll on donations.

"We have families that were affected from the floods and all the different disasters who've never been in a pantry before and now they have to come at their greatest time of need and we hope we can find enough resources to help them," Bruger said.

"When we lose power, people buy food then their food and then gotta throw it out. And it's like a hardship," said Ira David of Englewood.

David turned to the Center for Food Action in Englewood, when, like hundreds of other people in Bergen County, he lost power for three days. The pantry has been giving hundreds of storm victims food it cannot afford to replenish, and now the center is hurting for goods.

"Lots of people are counting on us. And it's really important to not let them down," said Patricia Espy of the Center for Food Action.

CUMAC suffered from the storm in more ways than one. The weight of the ice from the snow storm tore though the roof and flooded its entire warehouse. It doesn't have the $20,000 to replace it.

"If we don't fix the roof, what is our capacity gonna be to provide for our clients?" Espy said.

CUMAC said it doesn't have a single turkey in its freezer to give away for Thanksgiving.

Both pantries are praying generous donors will save the holiday.

If you would like to help these pantries, you can donate here for CUMAC and here for Center for Food Action.

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