Community Outreach Services, an agency that helps the needy in northern Logan County, has seen a big increase in the demand for cash assistance for bills and in the number of people and families needing food this summer, according to on-site director Susan Johnson.

"Food is what we’re running low on," Johnson said last week.

"We only have six large boxes of canned goods in storage," she said, "and you can go look, our shelves are empty."

According to minutes of the organization’s monthly board meeting, the number of people seeking help and the amount of food products distributed set a record in July. In July, according to COS records, the agency helped 111 families with products from the food pantry. In July, 22 new families were approved for assistance. In July, the agency distributed $4,300.94 to clients. For the year, the agency has distributed $27,709.26 to clients through July.

In June, food was provided to 88 households in the area. Also in June, the agency provided $4,183.63 to clients. In June, 16 new families were approved for assistance and agency funds for client assistance were exhausted by the 10th day of the month, according to board minutes.

The agency has issued a temporary moratorium on cash assistance to clients needing held with utility bills, Johnson said.

"That’s because we’ve been running out of money," she said. "A lot of people have been asking for help."

Johnson said the number of families needing help has been rising every month this year.

"We’re helping between 42 and 47 families a month with utilities," she said. "We’re averaging 15 to 20 new families every month. It’s a sign of the economy."

COS gets food from the Food Bank, from the Rice Depot and from the public.

"Our problem is the demand is up and the food coming in is down," Johnson said.

In July, according to Johnson, the agency received donations of fresh, locally grown produce from the public.

"We’re thankful when people give us food out of their gardens," she said. "We had some locally grown produce delivered today. We could also use paper sacks from people. We put the food we distribute in them."

For more information about what COS needs or its services, call 963-3300. You can drop off donations at the agency’s building at 317 West Walnut.