MIDDLEBURY — A local food pantry is being allowed to stay open as it tries to meet state guidelines. The Middlebury Food Pantry is working with the Elkhart County Health Department to get a needed permit. The county requires permits for places that serve food, including food pantries. The nonprofit agency, operated with the help of First Mennonite Church, has been working with the health department to meet requirements for the license. "It includes things like schools, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, food pantries, soup kitchens — anybody who is serving food to the public," said Karla Krecemer, manager of the Elkhart County Environmental Health Division. A donor already has paid for the license, while pantry officials are trying to figure out how to bring in more food because some shelves are bare. The reason is that more families are coming in for help, and more than 80 percent are unemployed. "Oh, in a week it was common to have five to eight to 12 prior to the economic downturn," said Pastor Linford Martin with the First Mennonite Church. "Well, the last week they served 101. This is probably as low as we have been in food in a long time." Martin says a number of people in the area have heard about the shortfall at the food pantry and have been bringing in food and money, and, he says, anything they can do would be greatly appreciated to keep the operation open. Gina Weber drove to the pantry from Bristol with a large donation. "I just knew there are people out there that are less fortunate than I am, that don't have jobs, that need food — and I had more then enough in my pantry." "That's what we depend on," Martin said. "The grace of gracious people." The pantry has run out of frozen meats. It uses donations to buy eggs, milk and vegetables.