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Heat increasing the number of people visiting food pantries - KOAM TV 7

Heat increasing the number of people visiting food pantries

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Volunteers at the Outreach House in Joplin prepared plenty of food, anticipating a busy breakfast. As the temperatures rise, so does the number of homeless and poor people seeking a place to get cool. People like Frances Lynch. She's not homeless, but still struggling.

"Everybody's homeless. Most people I know are homeless," says Lynch.

“We've had quite a few come in just asking, literally not even to eat, where they just want to come in out of the heat for something cool to drink. Our numbers are up because of the heat," says Terri Giarratano of St. Peter’s Outreach House.

The servers are used to seeing a regular crowd but several new faces have appeared this summer. It's only the fifth week the pantry offered free breakfast on a Sunday, filling a gap in what the community now offers, but 75 to 100 people were still expected to show.

“They just started this on Sundays. It makes me feel a lot better because people have somewhere to go to eat and have a good meal, cool off and a lot of people don't," says Lynch.

Now, between the Outreach House and the Salvation Army, free meals are available 7 days a week in Joplin. Although Soul's Harbor and Watered Gardens offer a place to stay, homeless and advocates in Joplin agree, greater access to shelter and protection from the elements during the day are needed.

“If I'm here even though we're not open, if someone comes to the door, we'll answer the door. I mean, that's what we do," continues Giarratano.  

For Lynch and many others, the few places open will have to do for now.

St. Peter's outreach house is looking for more volunteers now that it’s serving breakfast on Sundays. They can be reached at (417) 623-8643.

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