CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As you plan your family's meals for the next few days, focus for a minute on your neighbors who don't have enough to eat.
Loaves and Fishes, which provides groceries to folks in need in Mecklenburg County, served more than 110,000 people last year alone. That is a 31 percent increase since the recession took hold in 2008. They'd expected the need to drop off some, but it hasn't.
Nowhere is the need more apparent than at the 18 pantries the agency operates across Mecklenburg County.
"I just can't imagine what it would be like not to have food to hand someone when they need it," said volunteer Dee Hoover. "You actually hand someone the food and you see the impact on their face."
Hoover volunteers at the pantry located inside his church, Holy Comforter Episcopal on Park Road. He says this mission is in his blood.
"My mother, when she was alive, she volunteered with Loaves and Fishes and she had a good experience and then my wife when she retired," Hoover said.
"Some of my families or individuals are coming from a homeless situation," Cheryl Richardson said about the HIV patients who are clients of her medical case management company.
If not for the bags of groceries she picks up for them from Loaves and Fishes, most would go without eating. By the end of the month, she says their money is gone.
"They are low income. They have no transportation," Richardson said.
The stories the volunteers at Holy Comforter hear are a reminder that even a small donation of food or money makes a big difference.
"I think we have an obligation," said Hoover. "You have to have all of those things (food) to get by."
This weekend, NewsChannel 36 is teaming up with Loaves and Fishes and the Boy Scouts for "Scouting for Food." On Saturday, scouts will canvas neighborhoods picking up food donations.
You can also stop by the Arboretum Shopping Center Saturday morning. NewsChannel 36's Larry Sprinkle will be there collecting food during our morning news.
For a complete list of drop-off sites, which include area Harris Teeter locations, click here. The food drive runs through Feb. 13.