Citing heavy demand, a local food pantry is seeking nearly $50,000 to end the year in the black.

Eldon Harzman, board president for Community Food Pantry, said the organization has fed 3.5 times as many people as this time last year.

In 2023’s first nine months, CFP provided 102,408 meals, compared to 73,870 meals for all last year.

In addition, an average of 29 new families are visiting the pantry at 306 N. 19th St. in Richmond each month.

Harzman noted that poverty increased sharply last year in the United States, particularly among children, as living costs rose and federal programs that provided aid to families during the pandemic expired. The federal supplemental poverty rate, which includes government assistance, rose to 12.4% in 2022 from 7.8% in 2021, the largest one-year jump on record, according to a September data release by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The pantry’s income for the first three quarters was about $70,500, but expenses were about $19,000 higher, Harzman said. The final quarter’s need is estimated at about $30,000.

One in 8 Indiana children face hunger, and not having enough healthy food can have serious implications for children’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity, Harzman said. He cited research showing an association between food insecurity and delayed development in young children; risk of chronic illnesses like asthma and anemia; and behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression.

Donations can be sent to CFP, PO Box 1345, Richmond, IN 47375. For more information, call 765-962-1145.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 1 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.