The House of Mercy’s food pantry has become so low in food that its hours of operation were reduced during most of November.

Submitted News

MANASSAS, Va. – The House of Mercy, a nonprofit humanitarian organization in Manassas, is asking for donations of nonperishable food to help restock its pantry, which has become so low in food that its hours of operation were reduced during most of November, said House of Mercy Assistant Director Ann Cimini.

“House of Mercy’s pantry shelves are the emptiest they’ve been in some time, and we’re not the only ones,” she said. “I’ve called around, and other food pantries in the area are also low on food. We’re all hurting.”

The reason is a “perfect storm” of increased need and reduced donations, Cimini said. She said that the need for help with food has significantly increased because of the federal shutdown in October and the reduction in food stamps after federal legislators did not continue a temporary increase in benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, that expired Nov. 1.

“That was coupled with reduced donations, which I believe are the result of sequestration, the federal shutdown and probably also uncertainty about future government action,” she said.

The House of Mercy’s food pantry, open weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Wednesdays when it closes at 8 p.m., is one of the area’s few nonprofit food pantries open nearly all day throughout the week. The pantry serves the agency’s low-income clients registered with its “Passport to Hope” program that provides donated free food and clothing. The organization served 217 families in November or more than 425 people, Cimini said. The House of Mercy’s clients include more than 1,700 families annually.

“We’d greatly appreciate the public’s help in making sure we can continue to serve as many families as possible with sufficient food to feed them. We strive to provide families in need with a balance of nutritious food from all the food groups. That’s become harder to do lately,” she said.

Donations can be brought to the House of Mercy at 8170 Flannery Court in Manassas. Tax receipts are available upon request. For more information, visit www.houseofmercyva.org or call 703-659-1636.