The pantry isn't bare, but it could use some serious restocking.
The Red Star Baptist Church food pantry in Cape Girardeau ran a classified ad in the Southeast Missourian last week to solicit donations of canned goods.
"This time of year is when we usually have the greatest demand for food," pantry coordinator Kevin Sexton said Monday. "We have been running a similar ad for the past three years."
During the holiday season, low-income families often find it hard to pay the bills and put food on the table, he said.
Pantry volunteers distribute donated food and government commodities once a month from the church at 1301 N. Main St.
But the government commodities aren't enough, Sexton said.
Over the years, the pantry has seen its share of government commodities drop.
The pantry depends on privately donated food and monetary donations, he said.
The food pantry serves about 150 to 160 families a month, but at this time of year it's not uncommon to have 250 families show up for food.
Sexton said the number of families needing assistance has grown in the past three years. "The number of families has almost tripled," he said.
The pantry serves families from throughout Cape Girardeau County. Others come from Scott, Perry and Bollinger counties.
Persons must show proof that they live in Cape Girardeau County to receive government commodities. But the pantry distributes privately donated food to all who request it regardless of where they live.
The pantry benefited from a $107,000 three-year grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. But that grant ran out in October, Sexton said.
The Salvation Army also operates a local food pantry. But it experiences its biggest shortage right before the start of the Christmas holiday season.
Without food pantries, many people would go hungry, said caseworker Tina Rogers.
Ultimately, Rogers said, the success of local food pantries depends on the generosity of local residents.
335-6611, extension 123