How do food shelves prevent double-dipping?

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MILTON, Vt. (WCAX) With so many requests for donations to food shelves during the holidays, how can people know that some recipients aren't taking advantage of the system?

Thanksgiving is for many families all about the food, and food shelves this time of year are often desperate for donations to help people like Donna Maynard.

"I've been out of work for awhile and needed some extra food," Maynard said. She's here to pick up her Thanksgiving day bag at the Milton Family Community Center.

For Maynard -- and others like her -- this is a last resort. WCAX wanted to know how food shelves make sure that those families who need assistance are the ones who get it.

"We ask them a few questions -- name, address, social security number, and income. But if they don't have verification we take their word for it. And as long as they are in the eligibility guidelines then we will take them through," said Toni Auriemma with Northwest Family Foods in Franklin County.

Officials admit it is possible to take advantage of the system, but they say it's not a major concern. "It's not my responsibility. If someone is going to do it it's their choice. I'm not the police. All I'm trying to do is run a food shelf," Auriemma said.

"Compared to the number of people that we help who are using our services... It definitely balances in the favor of the folks in Milton who do use our services, and the money is well spent," said Kelly Hughes with the Milton Community Center.

Hughes says she doesn't want to put any road blocks in place that would discourage people who need help from coming here. "We don't know other people's circumstances and especially when it comes to asking for food, that's humiliating enough to have to come in and admit you can't afford to feed your family," Hughes said.

Maynard also has a message for people who might be thinking of double-dipping. "Don't take advantage of a place like this, this is a place for people who actually need food," she said.

Several food shelves have said that they are in need of turkeys this season -- Northwest Family Food Shelf sid that they're not sure if they will have enough to go around. If you can donate one, they encourage you to do so soon.