Winter weather leads more people into shelters, soup kitchens - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Winter weather leads more people into shelters, soup kitchens

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Cold, snowy weather drives those who don't have a warm place to stay to look for shelter.  The cold also leads more people to show up for dinner at shelters across the area. 

"Normally our shelter closes at eight in the morning and doesn't open until four, so when it's cold outside we keep it open all day," said Captain Lauren Boatman with The Salvation Army.

Boatman said they see more people when the weather turns cold.

"We are full at the moment, which we haven't been for a while, but we are full and during the day we do have more people," said Boatman.

Over at Mission Outreach in Paragould they aren't seeing more overnight guests, but are seeing more come in to their soup kitchen.

"Our meals served out of our soup kitchen have increased drastically since late October," said Mission Outreach Development Director Jeremy Biggs.

Biggs says they saw a 11% increase in the number of meals served out of the soup kitchen in 2010.

"I think we're serving on average about twenty more per day through November, December and January, said Biggs.

They don't see a big spike in need for food during inclement weather but more will come in right before a storm hits.  They're also seeing more requests for other types of help.

"The cold weather hitting and utility bills going up they don't it's either pay for groceries or pay for utility bills so they come in and seek assistance," said Biggs.

In emergency situations, like this winter weather, The Salvation Arm has ten cots they can pull out for people to sleep on a "night to night" basis.  Since they are serving lunch and housing people inside their dining room during the daytime hours they need food donations to prepare for lunch at The Salvation Army.  They also would like to have volunteers come in and help prepare and serve lunch. 

Over at Mission Outreach they have a need for extra blankets during cold weather.  They are always in need of non-perishable food items.

If you would like to help Mission Outreach you can contact them at 870-236-8080.  You can contact The Salvation Army at 870-935-2082.

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