Across the country families continue to struggle through the recession. Putting food on the table has become a burden and many more are turning to local food pantries for assistance. Sussex County is no exception. Area pantries have been struggling to keep the shelves stocked as the demand far outweighs the supplies these days. The number of families needing assistance continues to grow each month. The food pantry at St. Francis de Sales in Vernon is currently assisting over 70 families a month, up from approximately 50 families just a few months ago. Samaritan Inn, located in Franklin, is currently helping over 75 families a month and fully expects the numbers to continue to rise. “We are seeing fewer donations coming in, and a continued increase in the number of families in need... these are very tough times,” said Barbara Regad, office manager at Samaritan Inn. Items needed at local food pantries include nonperishable food products such as soup, peanut butter, canned vegetables and tuna, as well as paper products and toiletries. Families using the food stamp program cannot purchase paper items, as they are not food; therefore the pantries provide supplements. “We are seeing so many people that have lost their jobs, fighting foreclosure, desperately trying to keep their lives in order and their families fed. We are here to help, but we too need help keeping the shelves stocked. Donations are greatly appreciated and always welcome,” said Jeanne Scudieri of St. Francis de Sales. Help needed for Meals on Wheels Meals on Wheels is a program aimed at home-bound senior citizens. “We need more volunteers to deliver Meals on Wheels and to donate the time, if they’re able to come to the office,” said Linda Ward. She’s director of Aging Services for Sussex County and one of her many tasks is to manage the Meals on Wheels program. “We currently, on a day-to-day basis, deliver to about 100 frail people in Sussex County,” Ward said. In addition, the agency continues its program of delivering blizzard boxes and blizzard bags to seniors who are not able to get to the food pantry. An upcoming awareness program will run throughout March, with fundraisers around the county. Ward said that nationally one in nine seniors goes hungry, and she believes that number is higher in Sussex County due to terrain. The office is located at 48 Wyker Road in Franklin, in a building shared with Sister Thomasina’s. Funding for Meals on Wheels comes from the state, from Untied Way and Catholic Family and Community Services in Sussex county. Those eligible to receive meals are home-bound seniors. “Ideally they are on for a short period or time,” possibly after an injury or illness, and these deliveries help them until they can manage for themselves again. To volunteer or to find out how to receive deliveries, call the office at 973-209-0123.