YONKERS N.Y. - Food stocks are smaller, donations have been fewer and lines are longer, but even with dwindling resources many Yonkers food banks are doing everything possible to feed the growing hungry population.
Saint Peter's Food Pantry in Yonkers operates on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the year, but it may not be able to serve everyone this Thanksgiving because of limited resources, said Director Barbara Giriat.
"Funding for our pantry has decreased, and I'm finding that my donations for Thanksgiving are also down," said Giriat. "The people who normally donate to us haven't because they don't have the resources to do so. The gasoline shortage also stopped people from buying goods and coming down to donate them."
Because so many people depend on Saint Peter's it was forced to establish an early registration system, said Giriat.
"One of the biggest reasons attendance with us has increased is that one of the local pantries recently closed down," said Giriat. "Our system allows people to register early with names of people in their household. This way we have a set number of people to prepare for, rather than people just coming in."
Saint Peter's Food Pantry will be open for Thanksgiving Thursday morning for registered families until 12 p.m. It will then reopen its doors to the general public at 1 p.m. until food runs out.
Saint Joseph's Soup Kitchen is another Yonkers institution that has also seen increased attendance in recent years, said Saint Joseph's Church organizer Rev. George Kuhn. The number of people the soup kitchen's serves on Saturdays has doubled from about 100 to 200 people over the past few years, said Kuhn.
"There's been a big increase of people coming in for food, and it's not because of Sandy or any other identifiable reason," said Kuhn. "I've noticed that a large number of the people coming in aren't homeless like they once were. There's a lot less street people and a lot more families, especially the elderly. Whatever the reason, it certainly makes it harder to provide for everyone."
In addition to the church's soup kitchen that operates every Sunday throughout the year, Saint Joseph's Church also participates in the Sacred Heart Food for the Hungry Program Saturday mornings.
"We get all of our Thanksgiving good from Sacred Heart and distribute them to as many people as we possibly can," said Kuhn. "The work that we do couldn't be achieved without the great work of our volunteers. We don't have too many turkeys, but we're making the most of it and hope that what we have gets to the people who need it most."