NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) -- As Southern New Englanders get ready to celebrate the holiday season, one local food pantry says the number of hungry families seeking its assistance has never been higher.
Kevin and Helen Johnson run the Newport Salvation Army food pantry. They say demand has been on the rise all year, and it is even more evidence as the holiday season approaches.
"Last year we served about 76,000 meals out of our food pantry. This year, we just did the math, it's about 115,000," Kevin Johnson explained.
"We see many people who at one point used to donate to us are now coming in to get help," says Helen Johnson.
With extra demand comes an extra need for donations, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner.
"We need stuffing, we need canned yams, we need cranberry sauce. All those good fixins' as they say down south," says Kevin Johnson.
The Johnsons say the pantry is always in need of a variety of foods, and that a donation now will go a long way toward helping needy families long after the holidays are over.
"I compare it to being like a squirrel," explains Kevin Johnson. "We're trying to fill up our nuts for the rest of the year, so we can eat them for the rest of the year."
The Newport Salvation Army is planning a Thanksgiving feast on Saturday, when they expect to feed about four hundred to five hundred people.