Food Pantries Strapped By High Demand, Low Donations

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BURBANK (CBS) — Food pantries are places of last resort for many people down on their luck, trying to survive in this economy. But the L.A. Regional Food Bank reports that many of the agencies that provide free food for those in need are in need themselves.

This is the third month in a row that Elizabeth Mooney, her boyfriend, Alan, and their 1-year-old daughter, Dixie, have needed assistance.

But today was a better day than when they walked in here in August. Back then they were homeless.

“No food at all, no money, nothing. Actually, I think we had three diapers,” Elizabeth Mooney said.

In this tough economy, assistance centers like BTAC are seeing more and more families like Elizabeth’s.

“The numbers really have probably tripled in the last two years,” said Barbara Howell, the Executive Director of BTAC.

With donations down 20 percent in the area, Howell has to pass on the cuts to those in need. No more canned food for the homeless and ten fewer cans of food for each family.

“If we maintained giving out food at the same level, then we would have had to turn people away,” Howell said.

But empty shelves are not the only problem for food banks.

This year the federal government cut funding to its Emergency Food Shelter Program, which meant a reduction in funding for many places. BTAC received no funding at all.

“It was about $40,000,” Howell said about the money that was used to provide temporary housing for families in transition and buy supplemental supplies, like diapers, formula and canned meat. Those are the things that pantries all over need the most.

But families like Elizabeth’s are just appreciative for what they are given.

“I’m just extremely thankful for this place and places like this because without them, we wouldn’t have food.”

Alan has picking up jobs as a handy man and the three have now rented a new home. As appreciative as they are for BTAC’s help, they hope they do not have to ever come back.

For more information on how to donate to local food banks, visit the following websites:

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