Local food pantry turning veterans away

For the past eight years, the pantry has exclusively served armed forces and their families.

A local food pantry that only serves soldiers and their families may soon be shutting their doors permanently.  Volunteers say it's because of empty shelves, but the community can help.

For eight years, the Jefferson Barracks Food Pantry has solely served hundreds of service men and women.

"Soldiers [are] trying to make ends meet and trying to provide to their families, said Staff Sgt. Ashley Caldwell. "It's kind of hard."

Last year alone, donations helped the pantry purchase more than 78,000 pounds of food. Soldiers who come to the pantry depend on the meals twice a month during drill.

"The numbers of soldiers that come through here can be 150," said Linda Ferguson, lead volunteer. That's 150 soldiers per day.

"One drill, all those soldiers coming through here, it depletes our shelves," Ferguson said.

In recent months, volunteers say many of those shelves are remaining bare. One reason for the food shortage-- volunteers are seeing more military families. 

"I started seeing it a couple of years ago with a lot of the layoffs and we have soldiers here that need this one day a week."

The pantry currently serves almost 2,500 military families, which is a 30% increase from 2014.

"A lot of soldiers they don't have these jobs anymore so they kind of depending for the means to survival, they're kind of depending on our pantry now," said veteran Lourdes Mills.

In the meantime, two organizations recently donated more than 1,200 cans. Volunteers say it's enough to keep the doors open for now.

"Anything that we can get is fine. We'll put it on the shelves [and] if they're able to make a meal, that makes us happy."

The Jefferson Barracks Food Pantry is funded entirely through the community and individual donations. They don't receive any financial help from the government or the military.

You can go to the Jefferson Barracks Food Pantry's Facebook group to join, donate or sign up to volunteer.
 


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