"The good news is that after being overwhelmed with requests, area food pantries are reporting a leveling off in demand.
Pantry providers point to a record 1.88 million people now receiving state food assistance as a major factor.
"Last fall, we were at capacity and concerned about being able to respond to such increases," said Marsha DeHollander, program director of ACCESS of West Michigan, which oversees a network of 100 pantries in the area. "We are still serving a lot of people -- more than 20,000 are coming to food pantries a month."But DeHollander said usage is down 13 percent from their exceptionally high levels. She said they are serving around 6,700 people per month now, compared to 7,700 per month in 2009."