SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The country's down turned economy forces the United Way of Southern Illinois to share some tough news with those they serve. Currently the agency helps people in 14 counties. But due to lack of campaign funds, it will not send support dollars to non-profit groups in Franklin County next month.
Another call for assistance comes into the office of the United Way of Southern Illinois in Marion. Campaign Director Amy Sue Wagley receives many similar calls each day.
"We've got agencies calling can we have our check now because we've got cut from the state and we can't give you that money," Wagley said. "It's rough."
That's a painful reality for the Benton-West City Ministerial Alliance. Wagley says last year Franklin County only raised 40 percent of funds during the annual campaign fundraiser. That means now, there's no money to help places like the Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry in Franklin County.
"It's sad, that means we're going to have to tighten our budgets even more and our budgets are already really strained right now," Vicki Seagle, Director of Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry said.
Monday is fresh fruits and vegetables day, which many line up for outside the building. Seagle says in the last six months the number of people to pick up food has increased by 75 percent. At the same time more food boxes and freezers sit empty.
"We're looking at, if you are lucky, maybe two months supply of food, so it's very dangerously low," Seagle said.
Seagle adds with the holidays in sight the lack of United Way dollars hurts even more.
"We're estimating 300 families or better this year and as names keep coming in and times keep getting harder, we're finding it harder to find the funds to fill up those needs," Seagle said.
But for those like the Huff's, who live on a fixed income, the fresh items and non-perishable goods are important when it comes to feeding their children.
"I like for the kids to eat healthy, but sometimes it hard when you don't have enough money to get it all month long," Lauren Huff said.
Meanwhile, the United Way of Southern Illinois is currently nearly six month into this year's annual campaign fundraiser. Wagley says far the agency is only at 26 percent of their goal and if donations stay down, more agencies could face a reduction in support next year.