The Salvation Army of Greater Chattanooga food pantry staff said they alerted administration today that their food stores were "dangerously empty."

Salvation Army officials said that their food supply for those in need has been lessened by increased need and fewer donations. (Photo: Kimberly George, Salvation Army of Chattanooga)

A news release from the Salvation Army asked locals to help with their plight and donate nonperishable food items. All donated items can be brought to their main office—822 McCallie Ave.—or the social services office—2140 E. 28th St.—from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Sandy Leavell, Salvation Army director of social services, said their operations are having difficulty filling food boxes for those in need.

"We have odds and ends, cans here or there, but barely enough to put together three full meals in a food box," Leavell said via email. "We are desperately needing the community to donate food."

Leavell said donations dwindle after the holiday season, while demand sharply increases at the tail end of winter.

"We have a lot of food that comes in around the holidays because people think of donating at that time of year," Leavell said. "They want to make sure people have holiday food, but truly, there is a need to eat all year. It’s a consistent need year-round."

When the shelves become bare, operation staff tries to get creative with their food boxes and scrape together whatever they can, she said.

"We don’t turn people away," Leavell said. "We try to figure out how to do it—one way or another."

Leavell said that the Salvation Army has about 125 grocery orders a month from the hungry in Chattanooga. Food vouchers from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank and community donations keep the boxes filled, she said.

As of today, the Salvation Army has about half the usual number of food boxes they keep on hand at any given time, according to Leavell.

To see a list of food needs, click here.

Salvation Army officials said donations can be made online here or by calling 1-800-725-2769.

Officials said they ask those interested in larger group donation drives from churches, businesses or schools to contact Matthew Dodgins at 423-756-1023.