Feed the Need: Food pantries across the Capital District brace for a lean holiday season

"We didn't see the increase right away," she said. "The first thing you're going to do is start using your credit cards then you hit a wall with another monthly bill."

Jane Sanders, an outreach worker with the Town of Bethlehem Senior Services, which runs the town's food pantry, said Bethlehem has encountered similar trends.

"The numbers have been going up," she said. "We have seen some new, first -time users."

Many of the newer faces are the recently jobless or those working part-time, who just can't make ends meet, said Sanders. The pantry serves around 35 families monthly.

Donations dry up

The same factors pushing people to pantries are having an effect on donations, as well.

"The number of people we serve goes up, but our donations continue to dwindle," said Cushing.

The Franklin Community Center's food pantry is somewhat unique in that it relies solely on community donations to stock its shelves. Many pantries accept funds or donations from food banks, large organizations that shuffle millions of pounds of food every year toward pantries and sometimes buy in bulk.

Cushing says the relatively successful Saratoga Springs community makes this possible through its generosity.

"Saratoga is viewed as an area of affluence, but there are pockets of poverty," she said.

With demand rising and supply dwindling, it's clear that food resources must be properly managed. Unfortunately, the United States and the world as a whole do not use the entire food supply " far from it, in fact.

According to a government study conducted earlier this year, Americans waste 27 percent of the food available for consumption. The EPA study figured that the country discards around 30 million pounds of food waste per year, comprising 12 percent of the total waste stream. Virtually all of it ends up in a landfill, as programs to compost or use spoiling food for animal feed are not widespread.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment