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      Economy leads to more customers for food pantries

      Everyone's definitely feeling the effects of a sputtering economy ; some more than others.

      The decline in gas prices has eased the financial strain a little.

      But some local residents are still struggling.

      We wondered just how bad the problem is, so we checked with a local food pantry.

      KHQA's Jarod Wells headed to Keokuk where he found out the need is great.

      Times are tough, and few know that better than food pantries across the country.

      Diana Amick with the Salvation Army in Keokuk says the organization has seen an increase in clients.

      "We've seen not only an increase," said Amick, "but we've seen a lot of first time people coming in to our office who have never been in before. A lot of times they'll come in when they're having problems paying their utility bills."

      Amick says if someone doesn't have the funds for their utilities, they should go to the Salvation Army to get food.

      This way they can save money on groceries in order to help pay bills.

      She says donations tend to go down this time of year, but the Salvation Army is still able to purchase food thanks to the money generated from its thrift store

      "We will give until we can't give any more," said Amick. "We are very fortunate that keokuk seems to be a very giving community. People that don't have a lot but are still able to take care of themselves seem to dig a little deeper and try to help those that are really struggling and just can't seem to make ends meet."

      Amick told KHQA some people are reluctant to come in and ask for help.

      But she wants everyone to know that's what they're there for.

      She says anybody could be put in that position so you should take advantage of the resources that are available.

      Amick also told KHQA they are always in need of canned meat, canned soups and baking materials.

      Donations can be made at the Salvation Army office.