Las Cruces, a close-knit community known for its warmth and unity, is currently grappling with a silent crisis that has prompted food pantries to step up like never before.
Delays in paperwork processing for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits have left a significant number of individuals without the assistance they desperately need.
As a result, food pantries in the area have witnessed a notable surge in demand, highlighting the essential role they play in providing sustenance and support to those facing tough times.
Amidst the bureaucratic tangle causing delays in SNAP benefit distribution, food pantries in Las Cruces have experienced an overwhelming increase in visitors.
One particular food pantry has reported a staggering surge in the number of people seeking assistance.
Over 100 individuals per week have been turning to the Salvation Army pantry in Las Cruces, a significant uptick from their regular figures.
Beyond the immediate struggle for food, those affected by SNAP benefit delays also grapple with pressing financial challenges.
“They desperately need help with either paying their utilities or paying their rent because they don’t have the money to pay for it because they had to pay for groceries because their SNAP benefits aren’t coming in,” explained Captain Evans.
This stark reality forces individuals to make heart-wrenching choices between feeding their families and fulfilling other critical financial obligations.
Food Pantries Rise to the Challenge Amidst Increased Demand
Moreover, the increased demand for food assistance has coincided with a decline in available resources.
“Unfortunately, the food bank itself doesn’t have enough food to send us to be able to put these boxes together,” Captain Evans revealed.
This scarcity has prompted the Salvation Army Food Pantry to increase the production of backup food boxes, yet even with this heightened effort, they have had to turn away individuals in need.
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, these food pantries have shown remarkable flexibility and creativity. Captain Evans explained, “We also do emergency food boxes in between the times that we do the organized boxes and if a family needs it right now and they can’t wait until we hand them out regularly, we’ll put together smaller boxes to get them through.” This approach, aimed at providing immediate relief, has seen a 20 percent increase in demand.
While the SNAP benefit delays contribute to the rising demand for food assistance, the increasing cost of groceries has also played a role. Maria Silva-Sutton, Executive Director of Loaves and Fishes, emphasized, “I think that’s contributed to the increase and just the price of groceries right now.”
Both pantries are turning to the community for support to bridge the gap. The Salvation Army Food Pantry is in dire need of non-perishable food donations, which can be dropped off at their location on California Ave.
Similarly, CSFP Loaves and Fishes are accepting monetary donations to aid their efforts in combating hunger. Individuals looking to help can call (575) 523-1272 or visit their on-site location on Southgate Ct.
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