Agencies strain to help influx of families in need
Lucille L'Heureux described clients at the Salvation Army in one word. "They're trapped," said L'Heureux, family services coordinator at the Salvation Army's Nashua branch. "We see families, mother and father, people who own their own home, but right now they're trapped." With Thanksgiving just one week away, trapped is the word on most pantry and shelter administrators' minds as they cope with an ongoing food shortage in the midst of the country's economic crisis. As of yesterday afternoon, the New Hampshire Food Bank reported that it has distributed 4,476,170 pounds of food this year to date. That's 787,648 pounds more than last year at this time. Of the 4,476,170 pounds, more than 95,000 pounds have been turkey. On Wednesday alone, 43,000 pounds left the food bank, according to warehouse manager Paul Barker. Pauline Boifvert, director of the St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry, worries that the supply isn't meeting the demand. "It's tough to keep up," Boifvert said. "Money is tight, so people can't really donate as much as they used too. People are really struggling." The slow in supplies won't halt the demand this Thanksgiving, either. According to Boifvert, there has been a 40 percent increase in the number of clients in need of Thanksgiving boxes, citing that 140 families have signed up compared to 102 last year. Charlotte David is noticing a similar surge at the Nashua Christian Bible Church Pantry. David, the pantry's director, estimated a 30 percent increase. "We're certainly busier," David said. "Instead of going up to the food bank once every two weeks, we're going up there pretty much every week." David said that new clients "have had hours cut back at work or they're just out of a job." L'Heureux, who also distributes gifts and other aid through the Salvation Army at Christmas time through The Telegraph's Santa Fund, noted that pantry newcomers are often afflicted with a variety of emotions. "They don't know what to do and they've never been to any organizations for help," she said. "They feel a little relieved but embarrassed to come."