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Many causes of poverty bring clients to downtown Oklahoma City food pantry

Unemployment and a history of drug abuse were among the struggles cited by Oklahoma City residents on Tuesday as they sought free food.
BY MATT DINGER Published: September 29, 2010

Stevens said she has been living in her van for the past couple of weeks. She works at a Mexican restaurant on the city's south side one day a week, but is looking for a full-time job.

"I don't believe in asking anyone for help because I was raised that if you want something bad enough, you'll work for it and you'll get it. That way you don't owe anybody for anything," Stevens said.

None of the women interviewed receive food stamps, they said.

Allison Ball is site coordinator for the Skyline ministry at 701 NW 8. She said the ministry has less-stringent guidelines for emergency food rations than other pantries, but limits visits to three times a year.

As the recession hit Oklahoma, Ball said, there's been about a 25 percent increase in people seeking food from the pantry. At the beginning of the month they may see 20 families a day, but as the end of the month approaches and funds are stretched thin, that number approaches 50 daily.

On Monday, 49 families received packages of food, Ball said.

"We have people who come because they had a fire and lost everything and people who rode with family members to St. Anthony's and got stuck there. It's not just people who have lost their jobs or are homeless," she said.

"If we can help them out with food, they can put money toward other places where it's needed," Ball said.

The food pantry is open from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. A photo ID is required.