With the holiday season gearing up, food pantries around Acadiana are preparing to feed the hungry. But one New Iberia charity food house, St. Francis Diner, is facing a budget shortfall and is on the brink of having to cut some of their services.
One hundred and seventy five hungry people file through the lines of the diner every day. But as food costs rise and operating expenses go up, the diner is struggling to keep its budget steady.
"If it continues and we can't get caught up, we may have to cut some days as to how much we feed," said Richard Guidry, the diner's board director.
The cost of operation for this year is tipping at nearly $150,000. But, they've only received around $130,000 (in donations) to date.
Guidry says the economy has played a big part in their higher numbers.
"When kids are on break from school, it increases our numbers big time," said Guidry. "The summer feeding program was taken out of the schools, so they were coming in a lot."
For many people, the meal they get at St. Francis Diner may be the only meal they get. And it's the heartbreaking stories diner director Juanita Lewis hears that remind her why the diner's day-to-day operations are so important.
"I got a phone call around two in the afternoon that some kids needed something to eat because they were eating dog food," said Lewis.
She says many times, she'll pack to-go boxes for people she knows won't eat all weekend. While canned goods are always welcomed, Guidry says at this point they really need one thing.
"We need money," said Guidry. "We need cash."
To donate to St. Francis Diner, you can call their number at 337-369-3362.