HOLYOKE Due to unexpected demand, Kate's Kitchen and Margaret's Pantry is asking the public to help the emergency food services to help them through a difficult period.
Through Oct. 3, the food services will stage a food drive at locations around the city. Food items can be donated at the Holyoke Farmers Market, Mayor Michael Sullivan's office, the two Stop & Shop Supermarkets, C-Town Supermarket on Cabot Street, and Pat's Fine Food on Northampton Street.
Because of the increased demand the food programs have recently been forced to close for several days because it simply didn't have any inventory, Sullivan said during a press conference announcing the food drive.
"We're being wiped out," Karen Blanchard, the executive director of Providence Ministries for the Needy, said.
Brenda LaMagdeleine, the manager of Margaret's Pantry, explained that normally the food program would service from 300 to 400 people a month. However, the numbers have been over 500 for the last two months.
She said the increase has been from a growing number of middle class people, who are ashamed and embarrassed to ask for help as well as more elderly residents. Increased costs of food, fuel, back to school supplies have triggered this need, she said.
"People are really scared [about heating their homes this winter]," she added.
Sullivan noted that nationally retailers are not planning to hire as much part-time help for the holidays, something on which many working class families depend to help make it through the winter.
Traditional food drives at Thanksgiving and in March and May normally fulfill the pantry's needs, but that has changed this year.
"I never thought we'd have a drive at this time of year," Sullivan said.
LaMagdeleine said that almost every non-perishable food item would be welcomed with an emphasis on canned protein such as tuna, pastas and cereals.