The number of families needing food has more than tripled since Carolyn Mewborn began her work as director for the Havelock-Cherry Point Ministerial Association food pantry.
“When I first started about six years ago, we had 40 or 50 families a month,” Mewborn said. “We had 130 families last month.”
The organization is now low on supplies of nonperishable food that is handed out to local families in need.
“What has happened in the last couple of months is food stamps have started a new program and a lot of people didn’t get their food stamps or their food stamps were reduced, so we have had a lot of people coming in,” Mewborn said. “It’s not all the same people. We have a lot of new people coming in, people who have lost their jobs, or their hours have been cut. I think it’s just the economy. They say it’s getting better, but I don’t see it here.”
Mewborn said Craven County Social Services has been referring those families affected by the food stamp changes to the pantry.
“People are saying that they are getting less food stamps than they are used to getting,” she said.
The increases in families needing food has led to nearly empty shelves at the pantry, located at the East Plaza business complex on East Main Street.
“The numbers of people that are coming in is so great that it is hard for us to keep up with the demand,” Mewborn said. “We’ve had some donations, but like I say, as soon as we get the food, it goes out.”
The biggest group of people coming in for help is single parents, followed by couples married with children.
“We don’t often see a lot of military people,” Mewborn said.
The food pantry hands out enough food to get the recipients through the next several days.
“It’s supposed to be enough food to last a week,” Mewborn said. “It’s all nonperishables, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, soups and vegetables, canned meats, cereal, anything that is nonperishable.”
Mewborn said the local business Tandemloc has made donations that have gone a long way.
“Churches have increased what they’ve been giving, but we still need food,” she said.
The shortages come just more than a month away from the start of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Those wishing to help can make cash donations or bring in food to the pantry. Checks should be made out to Havelock-Cherry Point Ministerial Association. Food donors can come by the organization’s office at 925 East Main St., Suite 20, Havelock, NC 28532. They can also call 447-5190 to make arrangements. The office is open from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.