PLATTSBURGH — More families are visiting the Plattsburgh Interfaith Food Shelf for an emergency supply of food than ever before, and donations are desperately needed.
“For the first six months in 2012, the number of households served exceeded the total number of households served in 2011,” volunteer Nancy Hobbs said as a steady stream of people visited the Food Shelf recently, each filling a silver utility cart with four days’ worth of food.
In all of 2011, the cooperative ministry of the Interfaith Council of Plattsburgh and Clinton County served 2,124 households — dishing out more than 101 tons of food — but by June this year, the number of households helped had already exceeded that total by 1,112 families.
“I believe it is (the greatest need the Food Shelf has seen), because times are tough for everybody,” Hobbs said. “We’ve seen a lot of people that have been here for the first time.”
The Food Shelf — open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, with additional hours from 4 to 6 p.m. Fridays — has served as many as 61 families in one day, and that was just a couple of weeks ago, Hobbs said.
“Today it’s slow,” she said. “We’ve probably served 20 so far, and we’re open till 12 (noon), but 60 and 61 families in the same week — that’s a lot of families.”
Families can visit the Food Shelf, which is housed within the Plattsburgh United Methodist Church at 127 Beekman St., for goods seven times per year. After that allotment has been reached, households can receive free U.S. Department of Agriculture foods twice a month, in addition to food stamps and other aid, Hobbs said.
When supply allows, those who need Interfaith Food Shelf assistance are allowed to choose items from different categories of foods, which helps eliminate waste and promotes personal respect and independence for pantry clients.