East Texas food pantries feeling strain from long-term clients

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Emergency food banks' original intent was to tie a person over during tough times.

That's been a long time for Roger Simpson, who has been a client for at least three years.

Simpson is disabled following numerous and very serious surgeries. According to a recent study for "Feeding America," (www.feedingamerica.org) food pantries nationwide are becoming long-term solutions for a lot of Americans. At the same time, food pantries, similar to the one at Catholic charities, are noticing new client numbers are growing dramatically.

"Sometimes we don't know if we should close or open because we're short of food, but the clientele is not getting any less," said Zeno Boehmer, a food pantry volunteer. "If anything, it's more every week."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 17 million households are food-insecure. That means people can't always afford something to eat.

Barbara Jacobs could be placed in the very low food security category, along with six million American households. The disabled guardian of two children gets food stamps, but it's not enough.

"You have to have lunch for the kids for school," Jacobs said. "You have to pay utilities and stuff, so SSI don't go far."

Attempts are made to regulate distribution, so there's enough for everyone.

"You're only supposed to come like once a month and that's it and no other," said Jackie Haley, a volunteer. "They may ask and they may give them a little, but here, they're supposed to come once a month too, but we can't get that straightened out."

Volunteers seldom turn anyone away. They're just not able to distribute as much as they would like.

Next Wednesday, on October 12, you can help.

Bring three canned goods to the Pineywoods Fair in Nacogdoches and receive a $5 discount on ride armbands.

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