EAST PRAIRIE, MO (KFVS) - As the economy continues to affect local families, a new food pantry in town steps up to help.
The new pantry in East Prairie gets food through the U.S. Department of Agriculture from the Southeast Missouri Food Bank in Cape Girardeau.
Those in the county say the pantry is much needed.
"Mississippi County is one of the poorest counties in the state and there's a tremendous need," said James Guthrie with the First General Baptist Church Food Pantry in Charleston.
Pastor Dan Usher with the United Methodist Church helped open the Flame of Hope Food Pantry in East Prairie.
He says he was first told that 30 families in the area needed food.
"We we did our first month which was last month, we had 160 families coming through," Usher said.
The food pantry -- stocked with canned goods, eggs, bread, and meat-- helps provide nutritional meals.
Flame of Hope now serves 40 percent of the need in the county. The Charleston food pantry serves the rest.
Food pantry volunteers say the numbers of those in need continue to grow.
"It's a tremendous need," Guthrie said. "The people that we see last year, 90 percent of them were of the elderly and or disabled, living on a below poverty fixed income and it's all residents of the county."
Pastor Usher says he knows it's hard to ask for help, so they give families a choice in food.
"The USDA, they'll all get the same in each box, but then we have other food that we supplement that with and they get to actually choose this," Usher said. "So it's not 'Here take what we want to give you. Take it or leave it.' It's not that way."
The food program is subsidized through the USDA, but the food pantries run on donations and volunteers.
To help or for more information if you need hand call the Southeast Missouri Food Bank at 573-651-0400.