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Taking stock

Melissa Topey • Apr 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Gladys Killinger stands outside of Care and Share with four other women.

It is a cold Friday morning, with a light drizzle falling.

Each woman has other things she would rather be doing than stand in the cold rain, but they need food. The food pantry will open in about 10 minutes.

“I come here every month. I use other food pantries, too. Care and Share is a blessing” Killinger said.

She relies on food and other assistance to stretch her $700 monthly disability payment.    She had a good life with a good job making good money at the Ohio Veterans Home until five years ago, when she suffered a brain aneurism.

“My income has not changed, but they keep cutting my food stamps” Killinger said. One in six people will go hungry in America, according to Feeding America, a leading charity fighting to feed America’s hungry.

Not Killinger, not today.

The doors open to Care and Share, and Killinger walks the aisles, picking up a few cans of vegetables, tuna, ketchup and bread. She estimates this will give her food for about a week.

“I love Care and Share” Killinger said.

Area food banks see an increase year after year of people in need.

The middle class is being squeezed out, several food pantry directors said.

“The job situation is not good. What jobs are out there are low pay” said Linda Miller-Moore, Care and Share executive director. The people who run food pantries, such as Care and Care, Fish and Loaves in Bellevue and the Willard Food Pantry said they are seeing people of all ages and demographics coming in seeking assistance: the retired elderly, middle-age adults and young couples who are working but poor.

One rapidly growing sector is senior citizens, who have to feed themselves and their adult children who have moved back in with grandchildren.

“All ages walk in our doors,” said the Rev. Dan Howard, who sits on the board of directors for Fish and Loaves. “Seniors are taking care of their families and grandchildren. For families with kids during the summer we try to give them a little extra to help ease the cost of kids who are not in school for lunch”

With the cutbacks in the federal food assistance program known as SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the demand for their services will increase, Miller-Moore said.

The cutback to the assistance program cost a household already in financial distress $36 per month, said Ross Fraser, director of media relations for Feeding America.

“That are many who have no money,” Fraser said.

It’s been the trend since 2007.

In 2006, 25 million were going hungry, according to a study by Feeding America; by 2010, 37 million needed help; and two years later 49 million experienced hunger.

“More people who are the working poor, the middle class, need help from us” Fraser said.

Administrators of the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron, and Richland counties agree hunger is affecting more people and a wider sector than in the past.

“Its everybody. The middle class, we are getting eliminated from the picture,” said Janice Warner, president and CEO of the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron and Richland counties.

“The need is real. Our pantry is low. We have been low for six months,” said Viola Washington, a supervisor for the Community Action Commission.

“The loss of employment, medical bills, people are having to pick and choose what they can do”

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