Salvation Army Food Pantry Is Nearly Empty as Demand Grows

The Salvation Army Food Pantry 2
Photo courtesy of the Salvation Army

NEW ORLEANS – The Salvation Army said it has experienced a significant uptick in requests for aid, especially for food and cash to pay for rent and electricity. The nonprofit said it is having to refer callers to other organizations or put people on a waitlist because it has run out of assistance funds and its food pantry is nearly empty.

“Right now, it’s disheartening because we can’t do much for those calling for help,” said the nonprofit’s Director of Social Services Chat Francois in a press release.

Francois said in the entire month of May, a total of 45 people asked for help with food or paying for rent or electricity. However, from Aug. 8 to Aug. 18, 141 people reached out to the Salvation Army for help with food and electricity payments, and another 100 people have asked for housing assistance. “There just are no funds available to help with payments of any type, and our food pantry shelves are shockingly empty except for a few snack items.”

“We are definitely seeing the impact of the highest inflation rates in four decades,” said Major Chris Thornhill, the nonprofit’s area commander. “It’s trying to meet the basic needs of daily living that has become incredibly difficult, and, for us, extremely frustrating.”

Thornhill and Francois say a domino effect is hitting businesses, nonprofits and donors. A large portion of the food donations the Salvation Army receives comes from Second Harvest Food Bank, but that agency is also seeing a huge demand in need and doesn’t have much to spare. Area grocery stores have not been able to donate as much as normal. And cash grants and donations have also slowed down. To add to the problem, the Salvation Army’s own expenses have increased dramatically.

“As the economy goes, so goes a lot of individuals and families, and many are finding themselves homeless,” says Thornhill. The Salvation Army can house up to 275 people a night in its Center of Hope, but “we also offer two meals a day, so we are stretching our budget to meet those needs. It’s just a vicious cycle for everyone right now, and all we can do is continue looking for resources.”

The Salvation Army is asking for more community support. A top priority is food, especially ingredients that allow someone to make a meal that can stretch over a few days. Financial donations can be made on the Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans website.

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