Union Food Pantry volunteers expect to serve more families than ever before — and hope the community will continue to step up with support.

According to Jan Brennan, trends indicate that 2,000 families and 5,000 residents will be served in 2012 by the pantry.

“The way the trends are going, that is over 200 people more than last year,” she said.

In 2011, the pantry served 1,876 families, including 3,167 adults and 1,777 children, for a total of 4,944 people.This year, through October, the pantry already has served 1,601 families, 2,758 adults, 1,556 children, for a total of 4,314 people.

And the busiest months are yet to come, added volunteer Ken Lingle.

“This is one of our busiest times,” he said.

That is why this Saturday’s Scouting for Food Drive comes at a good time.

“Everything the Scouts collect in Union will be donated to the Union Pantry,” Brennan said.

The Union Food Pantry, a Christian outreach organization located at 113 W. Locust St., serves the Union and Villa Ridge areas.

Brennan said that the pantry relies heavily on drives, as well as corporate donations and those made by individuals.

“The whole community supports us,” she said. “This is one of the main ones (food drives) that we depend on.”

Lingle noted that as the need grows, the community steps up to assist in feeding families.

“The need is greater, and people do well to support us,” he said. “We get a wide variety of food without much government help.”

Since 1994, the number of families who are helped by the Union Food Pantry each year has increased from 611.

“Five years ago we were lucky to do 75 families a month,” Brennan said.

Now the pantry averages about 160 families per month.

“We are proud of the pantry,” said Brennan. “Our support is from the community and dedicated volunteers — nobody knows the amount of work they do to run the pantry.”

The pantry is always accepting food items. Some items that are heavily needed at the pantry include dry pasta, canned meat, canned pasta, Hamburger Helper-style box dinners, chilli beans, spaghetti sauce, tuna and cereal.

"We have never run out of Ramen noodles before, but we did this year,” said Lingle.

He added that meals such as spaghetti go a long way to feed a family, and sometimes provide more than one meal. Items like chilli beans add protein to the meals and can extend them further.Families needing assistance are invited to call the food pantry 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.There are food pantry donation boxes at many local churches. Contributions of grocery items can also be taken directly to the food pantry at 113 Locust St., Union. 

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.