SOUTH HAVEN | The pantry shelves at the Porter County Salvation Army headquarters aren't quite bare, but they are getting there.
Major Jon Welch said more and more people are coming to the headquarters at 799 Capitol Road looking for assistance.
Most of the people are working, but either at minimum-wage jobs or have part-time work. For them, their earnings don't quite meet the bills and they are turning to the Salvation Army for food to supplement their budgets.
Others are making decent wages, but they've been hit by a crisis, either a medical emergency or something similar, and are needing help.
"It is pretty tough right now. We're trying to figure out adjustments," Welch said.
They have a list of food items they distribute to each person once a month. Sometimes, they can't fulfill that list of staples, Welch said.
Welch said the Salvation Army has depleted the money raised during the holiday campaigns and is dipping into reserves to keep the pantry full. Over the past five years, the church has spent about $100,000 in their reserves to help people.
Last year, 4,758 people came in for help during June, July and August. Welch expects that number to climb this summer.
"Yesterday alone we had over 20 people," Welch said Wednesday.
In addition to the increase in the number of people seeking help, rising food costs also are having an effect on the Salvation Army's pantry. The Salvation Army purchases food for the pantry from local grocers, usually at a discount.
The agency also continues to help people with other needs from housing costs to utilities and medical needs, Welch said. Those programs are not in jeopardy at this point.
The agency isn't considering cuts in programming, he said. Instead, it is reaching out to increase donations and is launching a campaign to help stock its pantry for the summer and beyond.
People seeking assistance must fill out an application outlining family finances, he said, but they aren't turned away.
"Whoever comes in for food, we help them," Welch said.