OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Food pantries across the state are seeing a shortage in food due to the increase in people coming to them in need.

Just in the past year, local food pantries like Yukon Sharing Ministry have seen a huge increase in visitors, causing them to buy more food and ask for more donations.

“In July of 2022, we served 497 people,” Missy King, Executive Director at Yukon Sharing Ministry Food Distribution Center said. “This July we served 803, and then in August we served 635 a year ago and 971 this year.”

Food pantries are struggling to keep up with demand after seeing a large increase so far in 2023.

“If you look at this particular refrigerator, it was full packed this morning when we opened, now it’s basically empty,” King said.

It has caused staff to place orders months in advance.

“We have just a great team that’s able to monitor that and we’re ordering things that are coming in 6, 8, 12 weeks later,” Cathy Nestlen, Director of Communications and Marketing at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma said.

They say there are a couple reasons why they have seen an increase in demand this year.

“Costs for prescriptions go up, cost for fuel goes up, costs for utilities all go up, but their income doesn’t increase, and so they’re having to make really tough choices,” Nestlen said. “Then there was, for people who were on SNAP, they got additional funding for several years. That all ended in the spring. So, that’s when we just really started seeing that big uptick anywhere from 30 to 50% increase.”

This has resulted in food pantries buying more food and asking for more donations.

“We spend a lot of time going out and buying extra stuff,” King said. “We work with farmers, local farmers that have gardens and they’ll come in and bring us fresh produce that they’ve got some extra of.”

They know the impact it has on families.

“Hopefully when they leave, we’ve taken a little weight off their shoulders just because of the food that we’ve been able to give,” King said.

With the holidays around the corner, food banks are having to prepare more now than ever. If you are interested in donating, click this link for Yukon Sharing Ministry, and this one for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.