PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Food pantries throughout the region are responding to unprecedented demand, as the poor, working poor and retirees, like Pete Rotondo, struggle to make ends meet.

He says having access to a food pantry helps bridge the gap.

“Oh yeah, without this place, I wouldn’t have orange juice,” he says.

At the North Hills Community Outreach, they’re seeing a record number of families who have come to rely on this food to keep their children fed.

“They can’t get their bills paid on the wages they’re bringing home,” said Natalie Klaum with North Hills Community Outreach. “Some of them are working two or three minimum wage jobs, but that also raises problems like the need for day care that they can’t afford.”

But with that increased demand, the greater Pittsburgh Food Bank and the Westmoreland County Food Bank, which supplies much of the provisions for these food pantries and soup kitchens, are feeling the strain.

So the Pittsburgh Foundation put up $100,000 in matching funds to encourage donations.

“It’s unthinkable to imagine people who are our neighbors any time of year to go without food,” said Grant Oliphant with the Pittsburgh Foundation, “so many are affected by this.”

When we put out the call, people responded. Your donations and those of the foundation regular contributors matched those funds within 48 hours. The foundation put up $100,000 more. And now that’s been matched and it’s adding another $50,000.

“We’re quite frankly blown away by the response,” Oliphant said. “It’s bigger and faster than anything we expect it to be.”

If all goes well, this critical needs campaign will have raised more than a half-million dollars for those food banks in little more than a week. It’s another stunning example of the generosity of this community responding to people in need.

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