The Thomas Aquinas Food Pantry in Derry can barely keep up with the demand for food.
"We're constantly in need of donations," outreach director Pam LaMontagne said. "We could have a huge food drive and that will last a week. The food goes off the shelf just as fast as we can put it on."
That's the case at many local food pantries, where the burden hasn't eased this fall. Over the summer, LaMontagne said, they were serving 15 to 20 people a day. This month, they've been serving about 25 people a day.
"We're very, very busy," she said. "We're seeing people who have never before had to use services come to us. People are losing their jobs and just can't keep up with the bills, with the increased cost of living."
There is an increased need for food statewide. Sara Beaudry, development director of the New Hampshire Food Bank, said food distribution is up 15 percent from this time last year.
"The demand for food is higher," she said. "Things are tight. We're always trying to bring in more food and looking for donations."
In 2010, from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, the food bank gave out 4.6 million pounds of food. In the same time period this year, they've given out 5.3 million pounds. Local food banks often rely on the state food bank to fill the gaps, but Beaudry said they're struggling to meet the need.
The NH Food Bank has gotten creative in finding new ways to get food donations. New Hampshire hunters can share their fall game harvest with the needy through the "Hunt for the Hungry" program. The food bank is collecting donations of whole or processed game animals to help feed the hungry.
St. Anne's Ecumenical Food Pantry in Hampstead is taking any food donation to keep up with a 15 percent increase in demand.
"We're averaging about 27 families every week," coordinator Fran Rosenau said Friday. "Just this week, we had three new families. If we continue at that rate, it's going to be a difficult winter."
Donations have been steady, she said, but there haven't been any large food drives yet.
"Often the local schools do food drives, but that hasn't started yet," she said. "We're hoping as Thanksgiving gets closer, food drives will start. We do shop at the New Hampshire Food Bank, but even their supplies are down. We're forced to buy more at local stores."
Annetta Steen, treasurer of the food pantry board at Derry First Baptist Church Food Pantry, said they serve about 180 families a month.
"If you could see our shelves right now, they're pretty empty," she said. "We're seeing so many new families coming in. A couple of years ago, I was seeing mostly elderly people come in; now, it's a lot of younger families."
The Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry served 1,143 meals last month, according to director Christine Fudala.
"We do the best we can and we've never run out of food, but we are running low at the moment," she said. "I think it's going to be a difficult winter."
Holy Angels Food Pantry in Plaistow put out a plea for food donations to be dropped off at Town Hall. The Danville Food Pantry also has asked the public for more donations.
All local food pantries need nonperishable food: canned vegetables and meats, peanut butter, cereal, paper goods, shampoos and conditioners, household cleaning products and diapers, Contact a local food pantry to donate.
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Where to give
Derry: First Baptist Church Food Pantry, 4 Crystal Ave., Tuesday, 3:30 to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to noon; first and last Thursday of the month, 3 to 5 p.m.; 421-1897.
Derry: St. Thomas Aquinas Food Pantry, 26 Crystal Ave.; Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; 432-5000.
Hampstead: St. Anne's Ecumenical Food Pantry, 26 Emerson Ave., Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon, 329-5886.
Londonderry: St. Jude's Food Pantry, 435 Mammoth Road, 432-3333.
Pelham: St. Patrick's Pelham Food Pantry, 12 Main St.; Tuesday 9 to 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, 1 to 3 p.m.; 635-7592.
Plaistow: Plaistow Community Food Pantry, Holy Angels Parish, 8 Atkinson Depot Road; Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to noon, Thursday, 6 to 7 p.m.; 382-8324.
Salem: Food for the Hungry Food Pantry, Pleasant Street United Methodist Church, 8 Pleasant St., Wednesday, 10 a.m. to noon, 898-2501.
Salem: Rockingham Community Action Program Food Pantry, 287 Lawrence Road, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 893-9172.
Sandown: Sandown Food Pantry, call Eleanor Bassett at 887-3946 or Town Clerk Michelle Short at 887-4870.
Windham: The Shepherd's Pantry, 1 Church Road, Monday, 9 to 11 a.m., 432-2150.
This is not intended to be a complete list of food pantries in the area.