FULTON - A recent report from the Missourians to End Poverty Coaltion shows that the poverty level in Callaway County has risen to 15.1 percent. According to the United States Census Bureau, only 11.7 percent of people in Callaway lived below the poverty line from 2008-2012.
Residents at the Fulton Soup Kitchen Tuesday night said they have seen a huge increase in the number of people in the soup kitchen in the past few years.
Elaine Darney has attended the Fulton Soup Kitchen for the past six years and said she has seen a lot more people come in who are below the poverty line.
"I've seen a lot of people in here struggling financially and I try to help," Darney said. "Especially the single mothers because I used to struggle when I was raising my four children."
Darney said she thinks people are struggling because business is bad and people are getting laid off.
"Business have shut down all over," Darney said. "This town is dying and they're letting our people move on to someplace else where they can get jobs."
Darney said a lot of the people she knows who come to the soup kitchen find someone to live with in order to save money.
"Their money or food stamps get cut so two individuals will get together and live together in order to survive," Darney said. "Its ridiculous that people have to starve to feed their children."
Anne Johnson is the Executive Director for the Fulton Housing Authority and said the rising number of people falling below the poverty level will force them to reevaluate where they spend their paychecks. She said she thinks public housing is a good way to help people stretch their paychecks when struggling economically.
"They have less dollars to pay their rent, pay utilities, buy groceries and all of that, so service agencies in town will probably se an icrease of people looking for help, Johnson said. "We are here to offer safe housing for families at the lower income level who are looking to get back on their feet."
Johnson said she has not noticed an increase in people applying for subsidized housing but thinks the rising number will affect the amount of people living in public housing.
"Times are tight and dollars don't go as far for families," Johnson said. "Trying to make ends meet for anyone can be difficult."
Callaway County offers a list of jobs accepting applications in the area on its website.