COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Summer is supposed to be a time for families to relax and have a fun-filled break, but with increased utility bills due to the heat and a lack of meals provided by schools it can create a financially hard place for these families.
St. Anne Outreach’s Book Keeper Kathy Gramling said their center not only sees an increase in need for food, but clothes and financial assistance to pay utility bills as well.
“It is definitely something we see as an increase in the summertime, as families are definitely struggling with their kids not going to school, not getting those meals,” said Gramling. “They’re looking for ways to compensate for that, to supplement and so those who are struggling in any way with groceries or with bills are coming here and looking for more food.”
However, Gramling explained there is a lack of funding for this type of support meaning the outreach center and other organizations have needed to create other ways for families to supplement that income.
One way both Gramling and 211 Coordinator for United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley Candace Muncy suggests is using food pantries to get your groceries so you can save money to put towards your the bills you need to pay.
“We may not be able to help with your bill but we can help, kind of help you juggle your money so instead of spending the money on groceries, come here let us help,” said Gramling. “Let us give you a little more food than you might have normally and then you can spend that money on that power bill or that phone bill… whatever it is they’re trying to meet.”
Muncy emphasized this and said even families who are already getting food assistance are still eligible for food pantries. She adds the food assistance could not be enough for families in need.
“So you’re still eligible to get food from our local food pantries. We live in a very generous community. Food is readily available,” said Muncy. “We even have family hours for working families now that are after, ya know, after your work day.”
Gramling said despite the average rise in need during the summer months this year is much calmer than last June and July during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.