It's the season of giving, but that's getting harder for organizations that work to provide for those in need. A new survey conducted in the Capital Region found food pantries are in dire need.

It's well documented that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for food and food pantries grew immensely. Well, fast forward to almost 2023, and it appears the demand hasn’t changed, but the supply has.

“The food comes in, and the food goes out,” said Megan Quillinan, executive director of the Mechanicville Area Community Services Center.

Food pantries have reached a point in which they are in serious need, according to those who know.

“We can’t keep our shelves filled,” said Jill Becker, co-founder of the Bread of Life Food Pantry.

In the Capital Region alone, more than 80% of the food pantries are reporting an increase in service. But nearly half of them are concerned that current funding and donations will not keep them afloat through the end of the year.

“A lot of the federal assistance programs have ended or are scaling back, and combining that with inflation, so many people now are really struggling to make ends meet,” said Natasha Pernicka, executive director of the Food Pantries for the Capital District.

That's according to a survey of about 70 food pantries. The answers showed operation costs are becoming a burden, pushing many to the brink.

“Our gas expenses went from $13,000 in 2021 to more than $26,000 already in 2022,” Pernicka said.

Pantry organizers are calling on the federal government to bolster assistance programs like SNAP. Demand at many food pantries dropped with increased SNAP assistance and child tax credits during the height of the pandemic.

On the state level, there is additional assistance available to food pantries through the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program, but advocates are calling on state leaders to increase its funding by about $63 million to help weather the current storm.

“The only way we can keep food on the shelves is through community donations, but also partnerships and working together collectively as a community,” Quillinan said.