(KMOV) -- With Thanksgiving only days away, this is the week that Americans are focused on food. Unfortunately a growing number of families in Missouri and Illinois are focused on their lack of food and the week in and week out struggle to get enough to eat. With unemployment around 10% and many having been out of a job for up to a year, a growing number of families and individuals are turning to food pantries to be able to put food on the table.
The St. Louis Area Food Bank provides food to nearly 500 food pantries in the region. Some of those food pantries are reporting an 80% jump in requests over last year. The Food Bank has distributed 175,000 pounds more food this year than it did by this time last year. But the bad economy is taking a toll on the Food Bank also. This year they've seen a drop in individual cash donations and the ones they get are smaller than past years. The result is a 20% decline in individual financial contributions.
For the 26th year in a row the Boy Scouts of America are coming to the aid of hungry families. This weekend, as in past years, thousands of St. Louis area Scouts fanned out across the area and collected food donations. The food was then taken to fire houses to be boxed up and then the boxes were trucked to the Food Bank. This year the Scouts collected 2.1 million canned goods. That food will ensure that area food pantries will be able to help struggling families have enough to eat the week of Thanksgiving and through the winter.