By Patrick J. Bradley
The soaring cost of food, combined with a seasonal decline in donations, is challenging efforts by Community Missions of Niagara Frontier to provide critically needed support to those who need it most.
As they do every year, donations to the mission have fallen off after the winter holiday season, said agency Vice President of Public Relations and Development Christian Hoffman.
"Between Christmas and the May postal workers food drive, we're not seeing nearly as much in donations," Hoffman said. "But demands on the food pantry are the same throughout."
In fact, the needs of those who rely on Community Mission's food pantry have been heightened by the elimination of emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that were paid during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The SNAP supplement ended Feb. 28.
"Benefits have gone down a pretty substantial amount compared to what (recipients) were getting," said Eric Boerdner, the mission's vice president for specialized services. "At the same time, prices are going up and putting more demand on the pantry."
The Community Missions food pantry consistently serves 210 unique households a week.
"Toward the end of the month, there's a 30 to 40% increase,” Boerdner added.
FeedMore WNY, a Buffalo-based organization dedicated to ending hunger, has provided food to the pantry. Community Missions also relies heavily on donations from Wegmans, DiCamillo's, Sam's Club and other local merchants.
"We're still spread really thin," Boerdner said.
For information about donating to Community Missions, visit communitymissions.org.