By Gabe Monte: CNJ staff writer
In one month the pantries of the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico went from full to a meager supply, according to food bank Executive Director Nancy Taylor.
The food bank collects and distributes canned goods and basic food items such as rice, sugar and pinto beans to the needy.
Taylor said high gas prices have led to an increased price in food items, making it harder to replace food items and affecting donations.
“ We … have really had to stretch hard to stay ahead,” she said. “For instance: Pinto beans, unless I buy a truckload at quite a large price, I can’t seem to find any.”
Food donations have also been scarce, Taylor said.
“And those are the things even Costco and Sam’s (Club) are rationing because people are needing larger portions of beans to make their grocery budget stretch so that they can buy fuel to get back and forth to work to buy the beans,” she said.
The food bank received about 130,000 pounds of food in the first quarter last year and this year the food bank received 36,027 pounds of food, she said.
But the demand for food has not gone down, she said.
“Our food pantries are saying they are receiving more requests for food,” she said.
Some pantries are experiencing doubled demands compared to last year, she said.
A combination of the three food bank pantries distributed about 2,743 pounds of food a month last year, this year the food bank has given away about 4,000 pounds of food a month, Taylor said.
Taylor said the food bank has received eight new applications from agencies wanting to use the food bank for food programs.
One of the organizations that applied is the First United Methodist Church in Melrose, Taylor said.
Harry Jordan, a church administrator, said he doubts the church will be able to set up a food program soon.
“I think right now circumstances aren’t going to allow us to follow through right at this time,” he said. “Hopefully in the future, we might be able to put something together.”