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      Food pantries see rise in demand for help

      We're in the peak of summer months, and families are saving on heating bills. However, most food banks are experiencing even greater need than they had during the winter months. It could be due to the economy, higher food prices or even now that school is out, more children are at home full-time. Some children receive free meals at school through government-assisted programs; now that school is out, they have to have those meals elsewhere.

      You may be surprised to learn the best way you can help these food banks doesn't involve donating food.

      Wednesday, the Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank in Ishpeming cancelled their food pantry. Typically they host two events each month where people can come in and receive food. Wednesday's cancellation was not due to a lack of supplies, but a lack of funding. The branch has food, but they don't have the funds required to maintain the program.

      "For us to run a pantry, it'll be $2,000-$3,000 just for one single pantry," says branch manager David Mason. "We pay a shared maintenance fee of $.16 a pound. What that covers is keeping the food housed correctly, it allows us to ship food from the warehouse, keep the freezers cold."

      They also need money to buy nutritious food, as 80 percent of their donations don't fill gaps in the food pyramid. Most of their donations come from companies who made errors when packaging and donate the items rather then send them to the landfill.

      That means for now, they are turning people away.

      "It's horrible, it's the most horrible thing you could do probably," Mason says. "You know, turn somebody away when you know they have children, because you have no idea what they have at home."

      Mason says financial donations have plummeted this summer; wintertime is usually better.

      Facebook viewer Cassandra Evers writes: "People tend to give more around the holidays because they're in a giving mood, but tend to forget that time of need year-round."

      The St. Vincent De Paul Society in Marquette is experiencing similar problems. Demand has grown so much, they're purchasing 30 percent more food for their pantry than before, primarily for families.

      "Keep in mind that these are your neighbors and maybe your families, and everyone hits a rough spot," says Executive Director of the Marquette St. Vincent De Paul, Laurie Schmit.

      Marquette St. Vincent De Paul and Feeding America say all donations to their organizations stay in the area and go solely to providing food for the those in need.

      To find Feeding America Food Banks click here .

      To find Salvation Army locations click here .

      St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantries:

      Marquette SVdP District Food Pantry -- 2119 Presque Isle Ave.

      Gwinn St. Anthony SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 111 N Pine St.

      Munising Sacred Heart SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 107 Elm Street

      Ishpeming SVdP District Food Pantry -- 322 Cleveland

      Republic St. Augustine SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- Kloman Ave.

      Negaunee St. Paul SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- Iron St.

      Ironwood Our Lady of Peace SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 108 S Marquette St.

      Bessemer St. Sebastian SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 103 N Case

      Ontonagon Holy Family SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 205 Quartz St.

      Hancock Resurrection SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 204 Quincy St.

      L'Anse Sacred Heart SVdP Conference Food Pantry " 14 S. Main St.

      Watersmeet SVdP Food Pantry -- Old Town Hall

      Iron Mountain District Food Pantry -- 117 West A St.

      Crystal Falls Guardian Angels SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 136 Superior Ave.

      Iron River St. Agnes and St. Cecilia SVdP Conferences Food Pantry -- 211 W Maple

      Norway St. Barbara and St. Mary SVdP Conferences Food Pantry -- 431 Main St.

      Florence, WI St. Leonard SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 732 Chapin St.

      Escanaba SVdP District Food Pantry -- 115 N 8th St.

      Gladstone All Saints SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 816 Delta Ave.

      Manistique St. Francis de Sales SVdP Conference Food Pantry -- 231 S Cedar St.