LAWRENCEVILLE - When things get tight for Nicole Thomas, whether the gas bill was more than expected or an unforeseen bill exhausts her bank account, she turns to The Quinn House to put food on the table for her family.
From donated eggs to pasta, the 25-year-old Lawrenceville-based ministry provides a hearty meal for her family of five when her paychecks can't make ends meet. Thomas makes a few dollars beyond what the government requires to be eligible for foods stamps, she said.
"I don't know what I would do without this place," the New York native said recently as she patiently waited for volunteers to pack food into boxes. "They give you plenty."
While that may be the case with dry goods and dairy items, workers at The Quinn House say its canned food pantry only has enough rations to last the next several months.
In the past, Thanksgiving and Christmas donations were enough to stock its canned food pantry to the ceiling until the following holiday season. Now, only a few pallets and shelves of food - a smorgasbord of vegetables, fruit and meat - remain.
"To the untrained eye, it looks like there's no problem," house volunteer Robert Duffie said during a recent tour. "But this has to last us the rest of the year."
Gene Brinkley, executive director of The Quinn House, said he has noticed an increase in the amount of Gwinnett families turning to the shelter for assistance, many of whom are single mothers. This increase in demand has put a strain on the ministry's outreach services. Canned goods from the pantry are used in meal boxes that feed about 80 senior citizens a month. In addition, about 40 people are fed twice a day at the facility, and as many as seven food boxes are prepared daily for walk-ins. In other words, more is going out than is coming in.
"There's a lot more single moms around than there used to be," he said. "My mom was one, and I know what it's like."
Brinkley said The Quinn House, located in downtown Lawrenceville at 120 South Perry Street, is in need of canned vegetables, fruit and meat. To donate, the public is asked to drop off donations at the shelter or call 770-962-0470 and a representative will pick up the items. For additional information, visit www.thequinnhouse.com.