Mission Outreach sees increase in food assistance program

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT)- For the past month, Mission Outreach in Paragould has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people needing food assistance and other services. The kids are out of school, meaning parents are putting more food on the table. And for those struggling to get by, many are looking for ways to cut corners just to be able to afford the utility bills.

"It gets really hard. So hard you just can't explain," said Paragould resident Stephanie Cooper. With a lot of mouths to feed, she says sometimes it can be hard to stay afloat. She receives a small amount of food stamps, but it's often not enough. But the food assistance program at Mission Outreach is helping her to put food on the table. "If I didn't have them helping, we wouldn't make it. There's no way," said Cooper.

But Cooper is just one of many taking advantage of what Mission Outreach has to offer. Jeremy Biggs with Mission Outreach says in the past thirty days, they've seen at thirty-nine percent increase in the number of people that are coming in for food assistance. "Two weeks ago we hit an all time high. We had 104 food boxes distributed. So that's 104 different house holds that came in to get a food box in one day," said Biggs.

Also with the help from an Emergency Shelter Grant, three days a week the organization also provides services to help individuals struggling with rent and utilities. And lately, Biggs says the foot traffic has sky-rocketed. "We are seeing so many people coming in that we are having to limit the amount of assistance each individual can receive," said Biggs.

Stephanie Cooper says it's a service she's had to lean on in the past. "Sometimes I get in a position where sometimes my income just does not come out right. No matter how hard I try so I have to turn to something like this," said Cooper.

Biggs says their biggest concern is having enough food to feed the demand. He says a food drive Wednesday did help to stock up the pantry for now. "It will be gone in about 3 to 4 weeks with as much traffic that we're seeing in and out of our food pantry. If it stays at that rate every month, we will be stretched to our limits," said Biggs.

So if you're at the grocery store doing your regular shopping and decided to grab and few extra canned goods, or maybe a jar of peanut butter Biggs says there doors are open 24-7 for anyone interested in donating.

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