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Food Shelves Struggle

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Claremont, New Hampshire - May 11, 2009

For most people who come to the food shelf and soup kitchen in Claremont, it is not their first time here.

"Yes the community suppers, the food shelves. They are awesome," said Douglas Fedelski, a client at the food shelf.

Fedelski and his wife recently moved to the area and say the nonprofit has literally been a lifesaver.

"It means not starving at the end of the month. Not having to go without," Fedelski said. "I mean there are people here who care."

And the number of people like him is on the rise.

"Oh my God have we seen an increased need I guess. We have jumped about 18 percent," said Jan Bunnell, who runs the Claremont Food Shelf and Soup Kitchen.

The food shelf gets monthly shipments from the New Hampshire Food Bank. But officials here say that because of tough economic times across the Granite State, the food bank is stretched thin. Therefore, no extra food is coming to town to keep up with the demand.

Bunnell said, "Tons of families coming in who have lost their jobs, who are trying to find jobs. Who have signed up for unemployment but have to wait weeks before they get their unemployment check. We've seen families who have had their hours cut."

That means fundraising and grant writing has to make up the difference. Bunnell says so far, the organization has been able to handle the load, but she fears what's around the corner.

"And the shelters this summer are already filled. What is it going to be like this winter?" she asked.

The food shelf in Claremont is getting a Community Block Grant for over $220,000. That will help the food shelf purchase its current location and make needed repairs.

Officials from food banks like this one across the state of New Hampshire will be bringing some of their concerns to the state house in Concord Tuesday morning in an effort to come up with plans to better meet their community's needs.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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