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by Patty Cheffey
While the recent economy has hit a lot of people hard, those in the most need have really been affected.
That has meant an uptick in the number of people visiting the Palmyra Food Pantry each week to try to stretch their dollars.
“We are seeing so many more big families of five to seven people, and we’ve never had that many big families, and senior citizens who never would use it before,” said Sharon Wommack, food pantry coordinator. “I’m afraid this is the shape of things to come.”
As an example, on Tuesday, July 26, the Palmyra Food Pantry served 123 families. They were averaging 40 to 50 families a week, but are consistently at 100 or more families in recent weeks, Wommack said.
“There was a line to the street from approximately 2 to 5 p.m.,” she said. “And I think there were some people who didn’t stop when they drove by and saw the line because they were afraid they wouldn’t get in before we closed.”
“And it was all local people waiting,” she added. “There weren’t any Hannibal folks.”
Wommack noted the food pantry stayed open later to ensure everyone went home with something.
“Our volunteers were rushing the entire time to get everyone through,” she said.
“I’ve told my volunteers if we are going to keep up, we’ll probably have to expand our hours,” Wommack added. “We don’t want to do that, but I’m thinking we might have to stay open later to accommodate those who work until 5 and can’t get here earlier.”
Because of the increase in the number of people being served, Wommack noted the need for more volunteers is even greater, and those wishing to volunteer need only show up at the food pantry to do so.
Wommack blames the economy as the major reason the food pantry is seeing more people.
“People just can’t afford things with the high cost of food and the high cost of gas these days,” she said, noting she is sure some people are having to pay for the gas to get to work, leaving little left for food. “They are just doing the best they can.”
Wommack noted it isn’t just Palmyra which is suffering from the high cost of food.
“Bill (Wommack) goes to Columbia once a week, and usually brings back seven or eight pallets of food. Last week he only brought back five,” she said. “The Central Food Bank just doesn’t have the food, and they are buying more and more.”
And that in itself has become a problem.
“Big companies are not wanting to sell to the food banks, because right now they can sell to other companies at a higher price,” Wommack said.
With having to serve more families and not getting as much food from Columbia, Wommack noted any and all kinds of donations are being accepted right now, including garden produce.
“Anyone who has extra garden produce and wants to share can drop off those donations on Tuesdays any time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” she said, adding any donations can be dropped off then as well.
Cash donations are also being accepted, and checks may be either dropped off or mailed to Exchange Bank, P.O. Box 231, Palmyra, Mo. 63461.