If you depend on Community Outreach Services of Paris, an agency that helps the less fortunate, to supplement your food supply, the next few months could be trying.
Demand for food from the organization has grown steadily this year, according to COS Director Susan E. Johnson. And, she expects it to go up more after the federal government cuts $5 billion from the food stamp program Friday.
"We’ve had a steady amount of food coming in but there’s more need for food," Johnson said last week. "With cuts in food stamps, I expect demand to increase even though we’ve got food steadily coming in. The food pantry will probably be lean through the winter."
The organization is giving food to an average of 185 to 195 people a month this year, an increase of about 20 people a month over last year. In October, the organization gave food to 252 people. October visits to the food pantry were up by 30 percent, Johnson said.
In addition to meeting regular demand, the organization is also gathering food for its annual Christmas Food Basket program. In order to meet the demands of both, Johnson said the organization needs food.
For the Christmas Food Baskets, COS needs vegetables, instant potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cake mixes, icing, cereal and canned fruit. The Rice Depot of Little Rock has donated turkeys and COS will purchase hams for the food baskets.
Applications for the Christmas Food Basket program opened Nov. 1. There are income and residency requirements, Johnson said. Christmas Food Baskets will be delivered in December.
Items routinely needed for the COS Food Pantry include chunky soups, chicken noodle soups, canned chili, canned tuna, boxed macaroni and cheese, boxed cereals (Rice Chex and Cheerios are recommended) jugs of apple juice, peanut butter, canned fruits, canned corn or green beans, packages of spaghetti by the pound.
"We’re hoping that we can get some help from churches with the Christmas Food Basket program," Johnson said. "Right now, we’re low on meat, canned tuna, peanut butter and dry beans — which are all sources of protein."