The Union Food Pantry has experienced a decrease in donations and an increase in the people who need assistance from the pantry, a combination that could leave some area residents hungry.
Pantry volunteer Ken Lingle said major donations, including the Scouting for Food Drive, have been down from previous years and there are new people signing up for food every week.
He added that the local Scouting drive took a dip of about 30 percent this year compared to last year. The drive was down about 300,000 food items in the St. Louis area
“It is down for everybody,” said Lingle. “The Scouts’ food normally lasts us through June, this year I doubt if it will make it until March or April, maybe.”
While this is the busiest time of the year for pantries, donations of much needed items were lacking.
“We didn’t get as much pasta, peanut butter and jelly, canned meats like tuna fish,” he said.
“Just about every time we are open we probably add four or five new people,” Lingle added.
The Union Food Pantry, a Christian outreach organization located at 115 W. Locust St., serves the Union and Villa Ridge areas.
Scouts, U.S. Postal Service workers, churches, businesses and individuals, among others, all make donations to the pantry which helps keep it afloat.
“We get help from United Way and some from Ameren, but those are our only major donors,” said Lingle. “Other than that, we get help from drives, private individuals and churches.”
Families needing assistance are invited to call the food pantry for assistance at 636-584-7050.
Food can be dropped off between 2-4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, or by appointment. Call Lingle at 636-583-4042 to schedule an appointment.
“The people of Union are pretty supportive of the pantry,” Lingle said. “People who don’t have much of anything might bring in half a bag — that’s how people are here. They support each other.”
There are food pantry donation boxes at many local churches. Contributions of grocery items can also be taken directly to the food pantry at 115 Locust St., Union. Contributions of cash can be mailed to the Union Food Pantry, at the Union Ministerial Alliance, P.O. Box 101, Union, MO 63084.
Union Food Pantry has served the Union and Villa Ridge ZIP codes since 1994. It shares with other area food pantries and receives support from the United Way. The facilities are donated, and it uses only unpaid volunteers. Monetary donations are used to purchase perishable items, such as meat. Nearly 100 percent of donations go directly to serve those in need.
Many volunteers generously donate time to the food pantry to mark food expiration dates, stock shelves, staff the facility, distribute pantry items to families, and purchase food.
In 2010, the Union Food Pantry provided food for 1,514 families in the Union and Villa Ridge ZIP codes.
Since 1994, the number of families who are helped by the Union Food Pantry has increased by over 900 from 611.
Today there are more than 4,300 people who receive help, including over 2,500 adults and 1,600 children. That is compared to a total of 2,000 people in 1994 when there were 1,052 adults and 948 children who were aided by the pantry.