More and more people in the Northland are finding that their check isn't going as far as it used to, and are having to lean on food shelves. Based on third quarter statistics, CHUM’s Emergency Food Shelf has seen an increase of 327 families seeking emergency food as compared to the same time period in 2012. During that same time CHUM has had a 48% decrease in cash donations to the Food Shelf.

The need is increasing faster than the supply. No one ever wants to admit they need help but when your children are involved and your family needs help, pride takes a back seat and people are in real need of help in our area.

“We provided 5 day food packages, or 15 meals per person, to 662 households in October of 2013. That is 25% more households than in October of 2012,” explains CHUM Food Shelf Director, Meg Kearns. “There has not been an increase in food assistance benefits since 2009, but the cost of food continues to rise, giving those receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) less buying power.”

As the costs of food purchased by the Food Shelf increased about a year ago, the purchase of flour, sugar, margarine and coffee was stopped as a way to decrease costs. Kearns is worried, “I don’t want to give each family less food because then what will they do to feed their children?” While children are in school they receive lunches, but with the upcoming holiday vacations, these families will struggle to put food on the table.

Looking forward, we anticipate even greater need. As of November first, with the end of the economic stimulus, recipients of SNAP have seen a decrease in benefits, and Congress is considering legislation that would further decrease SNAP.

Because families have less money to spend on groceries, they are seeking assistance from the CHUM Food Shelf more often than they have in the past.

“Our program is set up to provide emergency food,” Kearns further explains. “We are never the only food source for families.” Generally the number of families in the beginning of the month is down as compared to the end of the month when people who receive checks monthly can purchase their own food. However, the number of households at the beginning of the month is larger now, too.

Lee Stuart, CHUM Executive Director, counts on the generosity of Duluthians once they know the true situation. “We are calling on the Duluth community to help us solve this issue.

Contributions can be made online by clicking the picture for give to the max or send a check to CHUM Food Shelf at 102 West 2nd Street.