Shelby County Outreach Ministries food pantry dwindling fast due to dramatic increase in need

SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas non-profit says they're seeing an alarmingly large number of new clients needing help feeding their families and with the supply on the food pantry shelves receding quickly they need donations to keep their pantry up and running.

Last month 200 families needed a food box from Shelby County Outreach Ministries food pantry and they expect to see that number climb to 250 this month.

Assistant Director of client assistance, Patsy Carl says there has been a dramatic increase in the need for basic food necessities.

"This is the time of year it seems like we have more coming in for the holidays," said Carl.

And right before Christmas the pantry was bare.

"Well our food bank was empty so we have to put out a call to our Shelby County residents," said Carl.

The community came together and re-stocked the pantry but the stock on the shelves is already dwindling and staff says it'll only last 2 more weeks and maybe a 100 food boxes for those in need

Outreach staff says it takes a lot of courage to ask for help and for Michael Lorton, who is diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma and his partner Jessica the help was a live-saving resource.

"We'd still be homeless and still living in a vehicle and freezing and hungry," said the Lortons. "It's pretty cold out there, especially when  you're trying to live in the backseat of your car with all the stuff that you can take with you. We got stuff that would keep you warm inside like soups and stuff like that, can goods and bread and they gave us a pretty good amount of food to help us."

But the Helping Hands outreach didn't stop by just curbing the couple's hunger but helping them find a place to stay.

"I knew they  helped with clothing, furniture, food  and with utilities but I never knew they  helped with sheltering," said Michael. "It was shocking and surprising and thankful for it."

"I'm so thankful that they are able and willing to help us. They brought hope into our life that we thought wasn't there. They gave us a new start on life," said Michael and Jessica.

Now Shelby County Outreach Ministries is hoping that the community will continue supporting them so they can help even more people.

Outreach staff says they attribute part of the increase in the need for food to the SNAP benefit cuts.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP benefits from the 2009 Recovery Act ended November 2013 and the cuts for the 2014 fiscal year are expected to be $5 billion.

If you want to help Michael and Jessica Lorton or Shelby County Outreach Ministries:

The outreach would be thankful for any support including but not limited to: food, clothing, furniture, household items (for the Unique Boutique) and/or monetary donations.

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