Requests for food are overwhelming at least one Lawrence food pantry.
Wednesday afternoon, the shelves became bare in the pantry at East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp, 2518 Ridge Court. Director Jeanette Collier closed it until a new supply of food can be obtained. She hopes that will be Monday.
“We’ve had a lot of donations in October and November, but we’re seeing 800 people a month,” Collier said. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep up with demand.”
ECKAN is one of several small pantries involved in the Just Food Program, which also includes the Salvation Army and Trinity Interfaith pantries. No one could be reached for comment Friday at those services because of the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
But other pantries are keeping up with food demand. The LEO Center, 1 Riverfront Plaza, is one of them. The centralized food pantry some churches donate too, is “well-stocked,” said the Rev. Paul Gray, pastor at Heartland Community Church. It is only open two afternoons a week, however.
The demand also is being met by Ballard Community Services, which includes Ballard Community Center, 708 Elm, and Penn House, 1035 Pa., representatives said.
ECKAN has several private donors, Collier said. It also is using funds to buy food at reduced costs from Harvesters Community Food Network, a food bank based in Kansas City, Mo.
Thousands of pounds of food have been received during the past two months, but it hasn’t been enough, Collier said.
“I know the donors are really strapped and we’ve got a lot of good multiple donors every month,” she said. “It’s just that the demand is up and it is because of a lot of new faces; a lot of working households that can’t afford the food.”
Collier thinks a more centralized food distribution system is needed in Lawrence. There is no one site large enough to be used as a collection and storage facility.
“Some things we can’t do now because we are just these little pantries and not a food bank,” Collier said. “Food banks have more access to more resources.”