The season of giving may still be months away, but area Food Pantries are asking for your help feeding people in need. Leaders with Catholic Charities in Bakersfield say they're seeing a record number of people who need food. They helped more than 900 families last month alone.
Organizers say while demand is increasing, donations are staying the same.
Catholic Charity officials say the summer months are always the hardest to get through. Kids are out of school, which puts more of a burden on struggling families during our tough economic time but this year, pantry officials say is the worst they've seen.
As volunteers load up government food commodities, they know its only getting harder to make sure there's enough to go around.
"812 families in May and 900 in June. That's the busiest we've ever been," said food distribution coordinator Matt Jacobs.
Volunteers aren't the only ones noticing the strain. So are people like Gina Frank who depends on worker's compensation for income. The food pantry helps feed her and her granddaughter.
"We came last week and they really didn't hardly have any food, but they gave me what they could. A couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese and stuff like that. They tried," said Frank.
Like so many other people, frank has been struggling to get by. Food Pantry officials say demand is skyrocketing. People who used to donate are now asking for assistance.
"Someone said the other day we bought $1,200 worth of groceries for our pantry and we got rid of it in one day," said Program Manager Joan Garibaldi.
Looking at bare shelves in the pantry, organizers find themselves repeating words they hate to say.
"It's terrible when we have no food because we have to say, 'we're sorry, we have no food today. We're waiting for a food shipment or a donation so we can go out and buy food,'" said Garibaldi.
Summer months are already harder on food pantries. Kids out of school on break mean more mouths to feed more often while utility bills soar because of the heat. When you don't know where your next meal is coming from, every donation, no matter how small, makes a big difference.
"If you're going to the grocery store, yeah, okay, you only got $100 and you got two or three mouths to feed. Pick up an extra bag of rice and take it to here because one bag of rice can last a family for a week."
Food Pantry officials say you don't only have to donate grocery items, you can also give money that volunteers can use to buy groceries at a discounted rate.
If you would like to help, call Catholic Charities in Bakersfield at 661-281-2130 or visit their website at http://www.ccdof.org/