Lines Stretch Hours Long at Mobile Food Pantry

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When Joan Jackson Johnson sees a line that stretches around the side and through the doors of the Bethlehem Temple Church in Lansing, she gets a mixture of feelings.

"I am touched that the need is so great," said Johnson, director of the city's human relations and community services department. "And I am concerned that the food is not going to last."

Volunteers passed out 45,000 pounds of fresh and non-perishable foods Saturday, staying open well past their scheduled 11 a.m. closing time.

"It's a tough time of the year with the way the economy is," said Johnson.

It doesn't help that the federal government is reducing SNAP food stamp benefits and unemployment benefits, she added.

"I think people sometimes panic in anticipating additional cuts, but there are a lot of needs out here," Johnson said. "The unemployment benefits may be a small part of it, but the biggest one we feel was the initial cut in October with food stamps."

It's part of the reason people waited in line for hours to fill their shopping carts, laundry baskets and other containers with food. Some even camped out overnight to ensure a good spot in line, Johnson said, afraid there wouldn't be enough food to go around.

"It just kind of reminds you how much need there is in this country and how many people are in need of food especially this time of year," said Bethlehem Temple Bishop Alfred P. Singleton. "It helps you appreciate what you need a little bit more because most of us wouldn't be standing in this line unless we needed it."

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