WAFER Food Pantry saw the highest need for service in July, as they said they haven't seen a need for food so high since January 2012.
On average, WAFER provides food packages for 1,600 families per month. In July, WAFER provided food for 1,792 families. “There were lots of kids that were coming in with their families, and that's not something we usually see,” WAFER Executive Director Erin Waldhart said.
Waldhart said a reason for increased service is greater demand. “During the school year, they (kids) rely on up to two meals provided by the school and now that it's summer time, they don't have that resource available.”
According to WAFER, 50% of families who go to WAFER have children who rely on free and reduced school meals. With children home for the summer, families need to meet the food needs for their children—but Waldhart said there are other reasons for increased services. “A lot of our clients are reporting issues like a decrease in support from food share, either cuts or loss altogether, and increased food prices.”
In July, WAFER helped feed 4,602 people, which equates to more than 55,000 meals—which is quite the accomplishment after the building suffered flood damage in late June, costing WAFER $5,500 in restoration.
Joe and Cecilia Lehrke, who have been WAFER clients for the past four years and recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary, said they recently started coming to WAFER twice as often. “We learn to adjust to what we have, that's all we can do,” Joseph Lehrke said. “I know some people think that we're free loaders. But look at our fridge sometimes in the middle of the month and tell me if I'm a free loader or not.”
Lehrke said he hasn't eaten a steak in ten years, and for him and his wife, they aren't ashamed to come to WAFER, because it's about surviving. “You just got to take away your pride sometimes. Swallow your pride so you can feed your family.”
Because of people in need like the Lehrke's, Waldhart said it's hard for their organization to say no to those in need, because “nobody deserves to go hungry”.
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