(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, New Bedford, Mass.) - For Wendy Escobar of New Bedford, a trip to the Catholic Services Food Pantry is a monthly routine.
Escobar said, "It helps out a lot when there's nothing in the house and there's food that I need for me and my son."
Escobar says she doesn't like asking for help, but she doesn't have a choice.
She said, "I've been looking for work for almost six months now."
Escobar is like millions of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed and need the help of local food pantries to make ends meet.
Shelly McAuliffe of New Bedford said, "Unfortunately there's not a lot of jobs so I'm kind of stuck going to different food pantries until something comes along."
One woman who didn't want to be identified said, "Well I'm working, but it's still not enough, it's hard to take care of your house and work at the same time."
The P.A.C.E. Emergency Food Shelter in New Bedford is doing its best to keep shelves stocked, but the increased need has left many of them bare.
Emma Melo, the food program director at PACE said, "I've never seen this, I mean we've had bouts where there have been a lot of layoffs but nothing like this and it doesn't look like it's getting better."
Pantries like the one at New Bedford's Salvation Army not only provide groceries, but hot meals for those in need.
Maj. Beth Ellen Parkhurst with the Salvation Army in New Bedford said, "The need has grown in both because we're seeing new families in both areas."
And with unemployment benefits lapsing for millions of Americans, these pantries only see the problems getting worse.
Loretta Bourque the Volunteer Coordinator with New Bedford's Catholic Services Food Panty said, "You can tell that these are the people who really feel badly about coming here because they've always been self-sustaining and then all of a sudden they need help."
That puts an added burden on already strained food pantries.
Melo said, "We have so many programs, but the money is just not there, the funds aren't there, the food's not there, so I don't know what's going to happen."