A national study was conducted by an organization called "Feeding America." It says 36% of those who use food pantries, go there every month.
Karen Seggi, Executive Director of Erie's Second Harvest Food Bank, says the role of the food bank has changed.
"Food banks and our member agencies were once considered on a short-term emergency assistance basis. And now, we're finding through our statistics, and also the national study, that people need to rely on food banks on a regular basis," she said.
The Second Harvest Food Bank supplies food pantries throughout Northwest Pennsylvania. Seggi says 10,000 households receive food from the food bank on a regular basis. The demand continues to grow. In the past two months, the food bank distributed 29% more food than the same time last year.
As was the case with most agencies, government assistance to the food bank was cut drastically this year. However, private citizens and businesses came to the rescue.
"We're lucky that people understand the need," Seggi said. "They want to do something to help those in their community. The food bank relies on the support of the community. The community has always stepped up to the plate."
The winter season is approaching. That's when the Second Harvest Food Bank has it's greatest need for donations. Higher utility bills eat away money that could be used for food. Also, Thanksgiving and Christmas can put a dent in a family budget.
"The holidays are expensive for people. How do you tell a child, "no Christmas gifts this year because we need to buy food." It's a tough situation I would not want to be in, and most people understand they don't want to see that happen either," Seggi said.
The annual WICU Food Drive helps Second Harvest meet it's holiday demand. This year's event will be held November 16. National and local statistics prove that help from the public is needed more than ever.