Monroe Co. pantries see big rise in use

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard reports 42% increase

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Monroe County pantries are seeing an increase in customers as cuts in the federal SNAP program increase need across the country.

At Mother Hubbard's Cupboard in Bloomington, households are under strict item limits after a 42 percent increase in pantry use since last year.

Crystal Tenpenny is one of those using the pantry to supplement federal SNAP dollars, or food stamps. She said she lives with her sister's family of five.

"Her husband is the only one in the house who has a job, so I mean, yea, she gets food stamps, but it's not enough," Tenpenny said.

Organizers say stories like Tenpenny's are on the rise since cuts to the SNAP program went into effect last November. Those cuts amount to about $36 less every month for a family of four.

For basic necessities, the pantry relies heavily on the only major food bank in the area, Hoosier Hills. The food bank serves Monroe and five other surrounding counties.

Hoosier Hills officials said they just finished a record year in part, they say, because of those food stamp cuts.

"In November and December in particular we distributed 31 percent more food than in those two months the prior year," said Julio Alonso, executive director at Hoosier Hills.

Now food banks are crossing their fingers that supplies last well into 2014 – a year in which they don't expect the need to taper off.

"What we're hoping is that the level of support that we receive through the community, through government commodity programs, things like that, will help us keep up with an increased need," Alonso said.

For more information about Hoosier Hills Food Bank, or how to donate, click here

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