FARGO, N.D. (AP) — There has been an increase in the number of people in the Fargo area who seek help with groceries, according to local food pantry operators.

The Emergency Food Pantry said the number of people needing help usually drops after December, but the last few months have been busy.

Valerie Hanson, a volunteer at the Emergency Food Pantry, recently noticed the hallways have become more crowded.

"We're busier during the day and it seems like people, they realize that it's not charity. It's something that will help them get through the week or through the month," Hanson said.

Stacie Loegering, the program's executive director, said more than 100 families came in to get food on three separate days in February, KVRR-TV reported.

"Sometimes a person comes in for just one food basket in one year and it's all they need, but for some people, it's a constant need," Loegering said.

The Great Plains Food Bank said it served a million more meals last year than it did in 2017, and that demand continues to increase.

"We're running above our capacity of what we can be. We continue to find ways each year to be innovative and continue to expand, therefore the number of meals we are providing continues to go up, we're doing the best we can. Unfortunately there's still people out there that are going hungry," said Great Plains Food Bank spokesman Jared Slinde

Becker County's Food Pantry said they've seen a surge in the number of people requesting its services. The program provides food for 1 out of 11 families in the county, officials said.

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Information from: KVRR-TV, http://kftv.com

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