Reporting Mike Puccinelli
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OAK PARK, Ill. (CBS) — As the economy limps along, demand at food pantries skyrockets.
That’s why some are changing the way they do business this Thanksgiving, CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports.
The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry has chicken, Beef-A-Roni and all kinds of food, but they didn’t have turkey on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Executive Director Kathy Russell says it’s a sign of the times.
“With $20, what a turkey costs, I can feed five families for two weeks,” she says.
And feeding more people is what they are doing these days at the 35-five-year old pantry. In fact, Saturday was the busiest day in the organization’s history.
“Our highest number was 314 families. Today we’ve given out 445 numbers,” Russell says.
None of the clients, who waited for hours to get food, left with turkeys or hams in years past.
Jessie Mae Hoskins and others say they understand the logic behind the pantry’s decision.
“I think that’s the right thing to do,” another client, Robert Shanks Sr., says. “I don’t mind as long as there is food on the table.”
Pamela Benbow says she’ll take the bags of groceries she received to put food on her table and also on that of her elderly neighbor, who she says desperately needs it.
“She’s a senior eating cat food. That’s unacceptable in the USA,” she says.
Shanks says he’s been depending on the pantry for the past five years and gets 80 percent of his food there.
The pantry is also about to reduce the number of communities it serves.
That is in part because of the rising cost of food and increased demand. Officials say those communities will be served by other pantries.