Last month, if Old Mother Hubbard had gone to the St. Vincents de Paul Food Bank's cupboard, she would not have found her poor dog a bone.
Nor would she have found anything but some canned spaghetti sauce, fruit juice, turkey stuffing, and sugar.
"The situation isn't quite so critical this month," said Richard Krause, vice-president of the local St. Vincents de Paul Society, which operates the all-volunteer food bank from the rear of St. Philip's Catholic Church. "But we are still desperate for donations for Thanksgiving. Those things, we are all out of."
Those things, Krauss elaborated, are "Turkeys, chickens, cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, yams, "and whatever else anyone wants to give us."
Under normal circumstances, he said, "We have several hundreds, sometimes thousands, of canned items. That keeps us going. But this year, we just don't have it."
Pointing to a ceiling-high stack of boxes in the organization's food storeroom, Krause added, "Those are all empties. We've really been hit bad by the government crunch. United Food, which was bringing us about 300 cases of food each month, brought us just 27 cases last month. That lasts us about a day."
At a loss as to how to serve the families and individuals who rely on the Payson Food Bank for their meals, Krause called St. Vincents de Paul Society in the Valley for advice.
"The fellow I talked to said, 'You're going to have to do what I'm doing: Bite the bullet and spend some money,'" Krause recalled.
The problem with that suggestion, he said, is that "We don't have any money. Right now, we're just trying to keep this place afloat. We have a very small treasury. We're limited to spending $1,000 a month, but we can't do that for long, either."
What does the Payson Food Bank need most right now?
"Any canned vegetables," Krause said. "Actually, any canned items. Actually, we'll take anything. We'd like to have canned foods, though.
"When this place is stocked, we can give people a pretty good diet. We buy meat, and all of the rest of the stuff comes from donations by various organizations in Phoenix that help us out. They've kept us alive for a long time, but now they're in the crunch. They had a shortfall of about $1 million. They're even having trouble paying their utility bills."
So far, Payson Food Bank's 35 volunteers have not had to turn any families away, "But we could get to that point during Thanksgiving," Krause said. "Right now, it's looking marginal."
The Payson Food bank distributes food from noon to 3 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
To contribute food, monetary donations or volunteer assistance, call Richard Krause at 472-7210, or the St Vincents de Paul Society at 474-9104. Arrangements can be made for your contributions to be picked up, or they can be dropped off at the front office of St. Philip's Catholic Church at 511 S. St Phillips St. in Payson.