Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS
"The food pantry is pretty empty," says Trinity Episcopal Church of Bethlehem Soup Kitchen Coordinator Deacon Liz Miller. "So far we're fine because we've prepared for a rainy day. But the rainy day is now here." The Soup Kitchen has served almost 1,500 more meals for this year through September than during the same period in 2007.
Miller is seeing an increase not only in numbers of people coming in, but how people are feeling as economic conditions have plummeted. "People are nervous and tense, and quicker to lose their temper," she says. "The dynamics of the economy have changed people's attitudes."
Churches are feeling it across the Lehigh Valley Ann McManus is program director of Second Harvest in Allentown, which supplies 180 local food banks, including churches. Together those agencies report a 26 percent increase in the number of households asking for help in Northampton and Lehigh counties, she says. "Almost every conversation I have about it with people at those agencies starts with, 'You wouldn't believe the number of new families that we are seeing. We've been talking about how the face of hunger is changing and it used to be that it was getting older and younger. But now we're seeing that it's middle class and across the board."