The number of low-income families taking advantage of the food pantries in Chambersburg, Waynesboro, Greencastle and St. Thomas has in some cases declined by as much as half, Halterman said.
Ironically, food pantry volunteers first reported a decrease in participation around last year's Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, when there's always a surplus in food donations, Halterman said.
"It didn't go up over the holidays. There were a lot of donations, but not an influx of people," she said.
At Waynesboro's food pantry in the basement of the Waynesboro Church of the Brethren at 117 S. Church St., only 22 families received food in March compared to 89 families served in March 1994, Halterman said.
Chambersburg and Greencastle food pantries show similar figures, she said.
Participation figures are not available for the St. Thomas food pantry because it opened just last December, Halterman said.
"Participation is down and we don't know why," she said, suggesting that it could be as simple as people just not knowing the service is available.
Some of the food at the pantries is purchased by state and federal money. The rest is provided by government surplus and through private donations, Halterman said.
A variety of foods are available, including canned goods, pasta, cereals, some frozen foods, and a limited supply of refrigerated foods.
To be eligible for food, people must show some form of identification, such as a driver's license or Social Security card, and they must have proof of income, such as pay stubs and social security or unemployment checks, Halterman said.
Eligibility is based on gross income. Those who do not have an income can also use the food pantries, Halterman said. Participants will be evaluated by food pantry volunteers.
The following are requirements to use the food pantries:
Individuals with a maximum income of $224 a week or $968 a month.
A family of two with a maximum income of $300 a week or $1,296 a month.
A family of four that earns $450 a week or $1,950 a month or less.
Waynesboro's food pantry is open every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Food pantries are also located at: Greencastle Presbyterian Church, 57 W. Baltimore St., open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon; United Methodist Church of St. Thomas, 360 St. Thomas-Edenville Rd., open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon; and in Chambersburg, 342 Grant St., open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2:30 p.m.