The holidays are over but area food pantries are needing donations to replenish dwindling supplies.
Janet Mills, food pantry coordinator at the Cassville Community Food Pantry at Cassville's United Methodist Church, said the holidays are hard on families in need.
"We've been hit pretty hard in the first three days that we were open this month," Mills said. "We served 120 families in those three days."
Mills said that school children being home during the Christmas holidays stretched some family budgets beyond their means.
"We've had a lot more unemployed families seeking assistance this month," Mills said, "and we feed a lot of elderly people on fixed incomes who are struggling with winter heating bills, fluctuating gas prices and other expenses.
"The need is critical," Mills added.
Area food pantries are in need of the following non-perishable food items: boxed dinners; packaged and canned soups; canned meats; pancake and waffle mix; pancake syrup; baking supplies; pasta; toppings; canned fruits and vegetables; powdered and canned milk; spreads; gravies; and sauces.
"People also need basic household and personal care items that aren't able to be bought with food stamps," Mills said.
Those items include: laundry and dishwashing detergents and softeners; shampoo and bar soap; deodorants; toothpaste; baby wipes; paper products; and household cleaning supplies.
"I always need volunteers, and not just for the heavy lifting," Mills said. "I need those that can greet and assist clients as they come into the food pantry."
The Cassville Community Food Pantry also hosts nutrition information classes with Tonya Wogoman, family nutrition educator from the University of Missouri Extension.
"These courses are a real enhancement to the program," Mills said. "She teaches recipients how to take a can of meat and mix it with noodles or rice to stretch meals."
The impact of those suffering food insecurity is especially felt in early months of the new year.
"It's critical," Mills said. "The need is enormous."
Donations may be dropped off at United Methodist Church, located at 601 Gravel St. in Cassville, or through the Alliance of Churches food program at the Central Community United Methodist Church, located at on Highway YY in Shell Knob.