PRINCETON — The summer months may be months of fun for lots of families, but they can also be months of additional challenges for parents, including having enough food to feed their children.
On Monday, Bureau County Food Pantry director Vanessa Hoffeditz said there are definitely more needs for food and supplies during the summer months at the food pantry because children are home and not getting their meals through their schools. Approximately 27 percent of the people served by the local food pantry are children under the age of 17 years, she said.
The Bureau County Food Pantry, which is located at 1019 N. Main St. in Princeton, needs “everything” for its shelves, Hoffeditz said. Items especially needed right now are things like cereal, macaroni and cheese, hamburger or tuna helper, spaghetti noodles, fruits and vegetables, she said.
Of course, financial donations are always appreciated because the food pantry can buy items from its food bank supplier, where every dollar received will buy $10 worth of food, Hoffeditz said.
The local food pantry is definitely seeing more people this summer than it did in the spring, Hoffeditz said.
In May, the local food pantry served 148 houses, representing 363 individuals. The numbers for June, especially for individuals, is expected to increase as larger households are coming into the pantry for help. Also, there are some new people coming for help and a lot of them have children, Hoffeditz said.
Considering possible reasons for that increased need, Hoffeditz said families’ food dollars just don’t stretch as far as they used to stretch as food costs continue to rise. Also, the job situation continues to be a concern. Some people are underemployed, maybe with only part-time jobs. Others can’t find any job, even a part-time one.
There are also more people who are retired and on fixed incomes who are needing help from the local food pantry, Hoffeditz said. With increased medication costs and fixed incomes, that age group is having a harder time making ends meet. Many of them have never needed help before and it is very difficult for them to ask for help now, she said.
The Bureau County Food Pantry is supported 100 percent through donations and grants, when available, Hoffeditz said. The community, including individuals, businesses, groups and organizations, has been very generous with its support, she said.
Donations may be made at the 1019 N. Main St. site from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Food distributions are done from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The local food pantry is also in need right now for more volunteers, Hoffeditz said. Persons don’t have to commit to an entire day or week but even helping for a few hours would be a great benefit, she said.
On a personal note, Hoffeditz said it’s a sobering thought to realize that there are people in the community who continue to experience what she calls “food instability,” not having enough food to feed their families or not knowing from where their next meal is coming.
“We are trying to fill that gap so we don’t have people going hungry,” Hoffeditz said. “It saddens me to know that 27 percent of the people who come here are children under the age of 17. That’s a huge emotional impact.”
The Bureau County Food Pantry is an outreach of the Tri-County Opportunities Council, where Hoffeditz serves as community services coordinator. In addition to Princeton residents, the local food pantry serves the communities of Dover, Kasbeer, Malden, Manlius, New Bedford, Ohio, Tampico, Tiskilwa and Van Orin.
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