The Lake Area's food pantries saw an increase of people served in 2012, and directors encourage the community to donate in the New Year.
"Historically, donations are up during the Holiday season," said Pat Woodward, Manager of The Lamb House in Camdenton.
But the need doesn't go away after the holidays are over. Heating bills can tip a budget and force families to seek help during the wintertime.
Woodward said The Lamb House provided food and personal hygiene items to 11,276 individuals last year, and she said part of that reason is due to the general economy and the lack of full-time jobs with benefits.
Serving the western part of Camden County, Woodward said the purpose of the Lamb House is to provide emergency help to families who need food, clothing, household supplies and funds for disconnect utility notices, evictions and prescription medicines.
Woodward said the pantry always needs non-perishable food items, meat and personal hygiene products. She said its currently running low on meat, dry milk, cereal and toilet paper.
The Hope House in Lake Ozark served 12, 883 individuals last year, and service Director Katie Matthews said that comes out to about 4,900 hundred families. Agreeing with Woodward, she attributes the increasing numbers to the lack of full-time jobs.
"A lot of it is the economy," Matthews said. There are a lot of people who lost their jobs or their hours have been cut so badly that they can't support themselves and they have to get assistance."
The Hope House's purpose is to offer short term help to those in need within the community. The Hope House provides food and personal necessities, as well as other emergency assistance, through the Hope House Food Pantry, to residents within the general Lake Ozark area. Its serves people from the western part of Miller County and the eastern part of Camden County.
"It is just supposed to help them get back on their feet," Matthews said. "We help them with clothes or gasoline to go to doctor's appointments that are out of town. We also help them some with prescriptions and utilities."
Matthews said donations of meat, non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products are always needed, however, monetary donations are also appreciated because the pantry can purchase the food at a cheaper cost.
"It helps probably as much as anything if they just make a monetary contribution because we can buy the food cheaper ourselves than the individuals can, and we have a pretty set line of what we do give out," she said. "We can always use canned goods and packaged meat."
Judy Wimmer, director of Share the Harvest pantry in Greenview, said her organization usually gets 75 percent of their donations during November and December. She noted that Share the Harvest is currently serving 750-800 families each month.
"Share the Harvest is a supplemental food shelf, therefore, we serve some of the same families each month," Wimmer said. "We always see an increase in the winter because of seasonal jobs here at the Lake."
Wimmer said in addition to non-perishable food items, the pantry is also need of personal care items because those items cannot be purchased with food stamps.
"Currently we need all personal care items, such as, toilet paper, tooth paste, shampoo, deodorant, razor blades, laundry detergent, dish soap, Lysol liquid," she said.
Serving the people of Camden County, Share the Harvest's purpose is to provide nutritious food for families whose income is below the poverty guidelines provided by the federal government.
Scherry Branstetter of the Eldon Community Food Pantry said the pantry saw about a 5 percent increase from 2011 to 2012. She said the pantry served an average of 606 families a month, which results in approximately 1, 839 individuals assisted in 2011. In 2012, the pantry saw an increase to serving approximately 639 families a month, which averages out to about 1,949 individuals a month.
She noted that she's seen an increase in the number of people in a family because many families are taking in extended family members. She accredits the increase to people losing their jobs and employment funds running out.
Branstetter said 95 percent of the people they help live in Miller County and the other 5 percent comes from other counties including Morgan, Camden and Cole.
Eldon Community Food Pantry is also a temporary help to those in need within the community. The pantry always needs non-perishable food items and monetary donations are always appreciated so that the pantry can buy milk certificates that people can redeem that at grocery stores.
In 2012, Food for Morgan County in Versailles served 2,928 families, which comes out to 7,003 individuals. The pantry opened in December of 2011 and served 214 people that first month.
Todd Forman, president of Food for Morgan County, said Food for Morgan County provides temporary help to those in the Versailles community. The pantry operates out of the Family Worship Center in Versailles.
Share the Harvest, Hope House, Eldon Community Food Pantry and Lamb House all have thrift shops where volunteers sell donated clothing and household items and the money raised from those sales is used to purchase supplies for the food pantry. Volunteers are always need to organize inventory, stocks shelves and assist customers.
There are several other food pantries throughout the Lake Area including the Ivy Bend Food pantry and the End Time Joseph Program located at The Door in Laurie.
To learn more about the food pantries and how you can help families in need in the Lake Area contact one of the individual organizations that serves your area.
• Lamb House, 50 Illinois Street NE, Camdenton - 573-346-2168
• Hope House, 48 Lakeland Estates Drive, Lake Ozark - 573-365-0099
• Share the Harvest, Highway 7, Greenview - 573-873-5855
• Food for Morgan County, 1000 Jones Avenue, Versailles- 573-340-4464
• Eldon Community Food Pantry, 312 East Second, Eldon - 573-392-8380
• End Time Joseph Program, 212 Faith Blvd, Laurie-573-374-6323
• Ivy Bend Food Pantry, 41569 Ivy Bend Rd, Stover- 573-372-9892