The Assumption Food Pantry on North Salina Street is in dire straights and may be closing January 1st if the donations donâ??t pick up.
The pantry offers a daily sandwich program, which offers a free bag lunch to anyone who walks in the door, regardless of need. They see this as a way to meet an immediate need in peopleâ??s lives.
Charles White is looking for work and when he needs a hand -- the Assumption Church Food Pantry has always been there to help him put a meal on the table.
"You always get a sandwich, a nice greeting. Even when you're down and out - they've always got a smile for you," said White.
On Monday, the volunteers at the pantry had plenty of smiles but not much food. When Charles White went to get basic fruits, vegetables and pasta from the panty, most of the shelves were bare. Three years ago 135 families were registered to receive food each month. Brother Nicholas Spano says that number has now gone up to 900 families.
The food pantry is one of the oldest in Central New York and has been helping the needy since the 1860's. That increased need is straining the pantry's supplies and budget. Without immediate help, Spano says the pantry will have to shut down at the end of the year.
"To go in and see - we've only got five or six cans and we've got families with four or five children in the hallway waiting to come in. I find it absolutely heartbreaking that we have literally nothing to give them," said Spano.
Spano says the pantry needs immediate donations of money and food. Assumption Church owes approximately $19,000 to the Food Bank.
If they can pay that bill, the assumption pantry can resume buying food essentials at bulk and discounted prices. As of right now, they are completely out of cereal, fruit and most canned vegetables. The pantry has about a days worth of pasta -- but only two jars of sauce.
"We can give people what we have - and when it's gone we will probably close," said Spano.
"It's sad to see that. You know, some people are in need and they come here - and they try to their best and they really need help," said White. White said he hoped the community would help the pantry continue operations and that he was worried about families who had nowhere else to go.
For more information, or if you would like to donate, you can visit the food pantryâ??s website at