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      Food pantries struggle to keep shelves filled

      Several food pantries in northern Michigan are having a hard time keep up with the demand.

      The economy in Michigan may be getting better but there are still thousands of people in the area struggling to make ends meet. Several food pantries in northern Michigan are having a hard time keep up with that demand.

      Pantry employees say it is likely due to the food stamp cuts that occurred last November and they said this is the worst they've seen it in the past several years.

      â??Food is flying out the door as quickly as it comes in and the need here is increasing,â?? said John McFadden, Director of Social Services at The Salvation Army.

      The Salvation Army in Traverse City has seen more than a 50 percent increase in visitors to their food pantry in the last two months and expect that number to continue growing.

      â??There was definitely an increasing need after the cuts to the food assistance program,â?? said McFadden. â??It was significant.â??

      He said the churches and social service agencies feel the hit most because they need to provide for hundreds of more people, and they're running out of food.

      â??Supplies are very low, unless you want to make of meal out of vegetables, we do have vegetables but not very many other food products make a meal with,â?? said Val Stone, a case worker at The Salvation Army.

      The Salvation Army has also seen an increase of 30 percent in those needing help paying for their electric bills since many energy companies only cut off customers in the summer.

      â??When people are utilizing all their money to pay rent to keep the lights on they a lot of times leave food to last,â?? said McFadden.

      Bigger food pantries have also seen an increase in people. The Father Fred Foundation in Traverse City helped 400 more people in June than May.

      â??For some, it may just be a little bit of help,â?? said Deb Haase of The Father Fred Foundation. â??Other folks, that might be a big source of their food and nutrition, it could be that they are going from one pantry to another.â??

      The Salvation Army is in need of protein items such as meat, eggs and peanut butter. They accept donations Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.