Before the doors opened, more than 150 people gathered at the Salvation Army in Bradenton on Monday morning waiting for assistance.
The long lines shocked the agency's most seasoned veterans.
Normally, Salvation Army workers expect to see fewer than 10 people on the first Monday of the month at its 14th Street West center, according to Maj. Robert Pfeiffer. But the parking lot was jammed as people waited for food and rent and utility bill assistance.
Other local help agencies report similar spikes in need as the economic crisis deepens.
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By mid-day Monday, volunteers at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen had served lunch to 222 people, a sharp increase over one year ago.
At Manatee Food Bank, run by Meals on Wheels Plus, requests for food are up 170 percent over last year.
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