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Need for food pantries is up in the region

By Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – Demand is up for assistance from area food pantries.

The Circle of Concern in Valley Park is reporting a 21 percent increase in the number of people it fed in the first quarter of this year over last year.

The facility, which assists families in the western third of St. Louis County, has also seen financial assistance to those in need more than double this year. Director Glenn Koenen says he never imagined that so people would need their help.

"We are seeing more and more people who have just been unemployed for such a long time that they've really fallen behind on their rent bill, their electric bill plus their cupboard is bare. They need more food because they really haven't been able to buy much in recent months," Koenen said.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank, which supplies pantries, shelters and agencies in 26 counties, says food distribution is up about seven percent over last year. The Foodbank's Ryan Farmer says much of the increase is new people showing up.

"We recently did a hunger study and that was one of the things that jumped out to me is the percentage increase we saw of people that reported having to make that choice between paying their rent or mortgage or paying for food. And that's a decision that I don't think anyone should have to make," Farmer said.