When the going gets tough ... Social services programs get stressed

NORWICH – Food pantry meal distributions are up as rising unemployment is making it increasingly difficult for people to meet their needs.

In Afton, for example, the number of meals served at the Inter Church Council Food Pantry in 2008 was 19,000 plus - more than double the number of meals served in 2007.

“I don’t think we’ve even hit the surface of it yet,” Supervisor Robert Briggs, R-Afton, told fellow lawmakers Tuesday during a discussion of the nation’s recession and the social services cuts that could soon come down the pike from Albany.

Food pantries across the county are being similarly swamped. Chenango County Catholic Charities Director Jane Coddington said distributions from its Roots and Wings division are “way up.” The pantry served 1,500 more households in 2008 than in 2007.

“January is usually a very slow time of the year for us, but we’ve continued to get new clients over the past three weeks,” said program Director Melinda Mandeville.

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