Government cuts to food stamps led to even longer lines at Ozarks food pantries in the last two weeks. People who were just getting by before are now getting in line for help.
The waiting room at Least of These Christian County Food Pantry in Nixa was packed on Wednesday morning from 8 a.m. until noon as volunteers handed out food. Last month, 832 families came to Least of These for assistance. The pantry director said that is up from from 755 people one year ago.
"They're frustrated. Prices are going up in grocery stores, and food stamps are going down," said Susan Kendrick, the director of Least of These.
The $36-a-month reduction in government food assistance equals longer lines at area pantries. Kendrick has worked at the Christian County pantry, supported solely by the community, for 15 years.
"This is the first year I've actually had families come to me and say they're out of food before the next month," she said.
In Greene County, pantry workers are seeing a similar need with thousands of people looking to the agencies to help make up the difference. The City of Springfield held a summit on Wednesday to try to come up with solutions.
Many count on the agencies for just a few extra meals.
"I was an automotive car painter and body man did it for about 35 years," said Steve Ducker.
Ducker is now disabled and working to raise his two grandchildren.
"It helps out tremendously at the end of the month when things get a little short and no money and things like that," Ducker said.
Kendrick said the Christian County pantry will likely need to come up with a new plan, too, as demand is expected to grow over the holidays. November and December are typically the busiest months for food pantries.