LAWRENCE — Last Wednesday, close to 800 people went to St. Clair Food Pantry to supplement their weekly groceries.
"This was probably the third time in the last four years that we ran out of bread," said Ken Campbell, food coordinator for Lazarus House Ministries Food Pantry.
On Saturday, members of the Andover Rotary Club and The Eagle-Tribune are hosting a food drive at the Tribune's North Andover facility to help restock the shelves at the pantry.
"We really, really need the help," Campbell said. "These will be the food items that will be put on the shelves to be distributed the following week."
And a hurricane will not affect the food drive, as it will be humid during the day with rain coming in after 4 p.m.
This is the third time in two years the newspaper has held the food drive for Lazarus House, said publisher Al Getler.
"I think it's staggering," Getler said of the number of people lining up for food. "When we first did it, we didn't think it could get any worse."
The need for food is so great, the pantry is relying on week-to-week contributions to distribute to individuals and families, Campbell said. Families come on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and select from the shelves bags of rice, canned beans, frozen ravioli, yogurt as well as fresh corn, summer squash, tomatoes and peppers donated by three local farms.
The items collected at the food drives are also used at the Good Shepherd and Lazarus House Homeless shelter.
"What we need is food items that can be incorporated into many meals," Campbell said.
In addition to The Eagle-Tribune and Andover Rotary Club, Campbell said local companies, religious congregations, schools, and Boy and Girl Scout troops also host food drives for them.
Lazarus House is not the only food pantry feeding the hungry locally.
Neighbors In Need, which has eight pantries in Lawrence and Methuen, serves about 600 families weekly.
"The needs of the families that we serve do not go away for the summer," said Linda Zimmerman, executive director of Neighbors in Need who said their warehouse is very low on supplies. "In fact the need is greater, since most families have children at home who would normally get lunch and breakfast at school."
Zimmerman said Johnson's Highland View Farm, in Windham, N.H., Pleasant Valley Gardens of Methuen and Farmer Dave in Dracut have supplied fresh fruits and vegetables.
Every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. There is a line of people standing outside in all kinds of weather from Essex to Hampshire streets to get a bag of food from Food for the World at 447 Essex St. The non profit organization also distributes items at seven other locations in Lawrence, Salem, Mass. and Lynn.
Food for the World receives donations from The Charles G. Pringle Foundation, Project Bread, Hannaford Supermarkets, Greater Boston Food Bank The Massachusetts Housing and Development Authority, The Stevens Foundation, and private donors. They recently received a $23,000 Community Development Block Grant.
How to help
What: Food drive for Lazarus House Ministries pantry.
When: Tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: The Eagle-Tribune, 100 Turnpike St., North Andover. Other drop-off locations in North Andover are Market Basket, North Andover Mall 350 Winthrop Ave. and Stop & Shop, 757 Turnpike St. Food items can also be dropped out in Andover at Stop & Shop, Shawsheen Plaza, 209 N. Main St., and Whole Foods, 40 Railroad St.
Items needed include, caned vegetables, tuna, chicken, soups, bags of rice, pasta, spaghetti sauce and tomato products. Financial contributions will also be accepted.