Anything but a nursery rhyme

Volunteer Agnes Carnes surveys canned goods in the pantry Friday at HOPE House in Rock Hill. The agency's supply of food is expected to last only until next week.
Volunteer Agnes Carnes surveys canned goods in the pantry Friday at HOPE House in Rock Hill. The agency's supply of food is expected to last only until next week.

Like Mother Hubbard, a number of area food pantries are discovering their cupboards are nearly bare.

"Our cabinets are down," said Agnes Carnes at HOPE House, a Rock Hill agency that helps the needy with food, utilities payments and prescription drugs. "Our donations are down. We are desperately in need of help. I feel if people knew what we do they would help."

On Friday, HOPE House had to turn some people away, she said.

It's not unusual for donations to drop off after the holidays, people at area agencies said. But usually they can hold out until the annual spring food drive by the U.S. Postal Service, set this year for early May.

This year, that's not the case for some. Oil prices that are driving inflation have increased need, while unemployment and poor economic conditions have deterred usual contributors from giving, they say.

"I think it's worse this year," said Lora Holladay, community outreach coordinator for United Way of York County. "People can't do what they normally do. We'd like to remind folks that it doesn't take a lot to help."

Out of 489 calls on United Way's 211 helpline in January, 172 were for food, she said.

Rock Hill's Salvation Army usually distributes 40 to 60 bags of food per month and had already donated 30 for March by Thursday, according to Maj. Bill McClure, who supervises the Charlotte Avenue branch.

"We have enough probably to make it into April," he said. "Beyond that, I don't think we'd have enough to help very many people."

At the Pilgrims' Inn shelter, the cupboards are "about half-full," according to Laura Walton, emergency assistance specialist.

"Stocks are down more than usual because of the economy," she said. "The majority of people coming in are out looking for jobs."

Supplies are even down at Second Harvest of Metrolina, which distributes federal surplus, said Dona VanLeer of the Clover Area Assistance Center.

"I think some of the surplus is still going to Hurricane Katrina victims," she said. "There are so many homeless there."

The Clover center usually feeds families for several days with a balanced diet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Normally, they feed people twice a month.

"Now we are only doing it once a month because of lack of supplies," she said. "Meat, peanut butter and canned fruit have been especially hard to get this year."

In York, PATH is not only low on canned pasta, toilet paper and laundry and dish detergent, but cash flow, said Cheryl Curtin. FEMA is revamping its procedures, meaning federal assistance isn't arriving as expected.

"We need financial contributions," she said. "We are completely out of canned pasta. That is one of the things we need because it's fairly nutritious. There are things like toilet paper, laundry detergent and dish detergent that we are down to nothing."

An area contractor who normally contributes to PATH was in recently for assistance, she said.

"The economy is suffering," she said. "The needy are hit hard, and people who normally give can't."


The following agencies are in need of food donations and other supplies:

• The Salvation Army, 119 Charlotte Ave., Rock Hill, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; nonperishables such as canned goods, noodles, bag items and self-opening soup cans especially needed.

• Pilgrims' Inn, 236 W. Main St., Rock Hill, pantry open 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

• HOPE House, 404 E. Main St., Rock Hill, open 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays; food and funds to assist with utilities and prescriptions needed.

• Clover Area Assistance Center, 1130 S.C. 55 East, Clover, open 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to noon Thursday; funds and food needed, especially meat, peanut butter and canned fruit.

• PATH, 204 Raille St., York, open 9 a.m. to noon Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; funds, food, dish and laundry detergent and toilet paper needed.

• Fort Mill Care Center, 513 Banks St., Fort Mill, open 9 a.m. to noon Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; no dire needs, but food donations welcome.