WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Salvation Army cupboards are so bare that some locations are worried they won't be able to serve needy families as soon as next week.
The Fort Lauderdale location is down to rice and green beans. The Boca Raton location is left with vegetables and soup. They're asking individuals, churches, companies and clubs to chip in to help them restock the pantries so families don't go hungry.
"I've worked here 10 years and I've never seen shelves like that," said Sally Gress, director of development with the Fort Lauderdale location.
Gress said she's seen a huge increase in the number of people coming to the Salvation Army for food. In past years, the Fort Lauderdale pantry would serve about 35 families a week. Now it's serving more than 100 families a week. She said the need is greater with more people losing their jobs or working in low-paying positions.
Boca Raton 's food pantry, which is smaller, serves about 17 Boca and Delray Beach families a week. The pantry wants to feed more families but can't because it's so low on food, said Luz Miranda, an administrative assistant at the Boca location.
"We had a [food] drive in May and usually we're stocked until Christmas time," said Miranda. "But we need everything right now."
Miranda warns people before they come to the store that the pantry only has vegetables and soup left. But she said that doesn't stop residents from showing up at the door desperate for a bag of food.
"They say 'Hey, we can accept it.'We have nothing,' " she said.
The food shortage isn't just affecting the Salvation Army. LifeNet 4 Families, an organization that makes emergency food boxes for individuals and families based in Fort Lauderdale, is low on nonperishable food items such as pasta, peanut butter and cans of tuna.
"We're running out; it seems like we're doing an extra amount of people," said Barbara Key, pantry manager for the organization. She said she can hardly keep food on the shelves.
"We've barely got our foot in the door to keep people fed," she said.
The Salvation Army had a busier than usual summer, serving more hungry families than ever before. Families are only allowed to pick up the donated food once every few months.
Families that line up for food at the Fort Lauderdale location Thursday will receive one bag instead of the usual three or four.
After that, Gress said the "pantries will be bare."
How to donate
To donate nonperishable food items, go to:
Salvation Army Fort Lauderdale, 1445 W. Broward Blvd., will take donations from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.
Salvation Army Boca Raton , 300 SW Second Ave., will take donations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
LifeNet 4 Families, at 1 NW 33rd Terrace, will take donations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Nonperishable food items include: canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, crackers, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, rice