By Robbie Owens

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – A West Plano food pantry is re-stocking the shelves after the community rallied to help meet a huge increase in demand brought on by the heatwave.

“Our own electric bills have tripled, “ said Minnie’s Food Pantry founder Cheryl Jackson, “I know what they’re feeling.  People are being forced to choose between keeping the electricity on, and buying food.”

The pantry has seen such a huge increase in demand that earlier this week the shelves were nearly bare.  But as soon as CBS 11 shared their story—the phones started ringing and haven’t stopped.

“I just got a phone call from an organization that’s coming to drop off a truck load of food, a lady just walked through our door with a monetary donation, it’s been like this all morning!” said Erica Simon, the pantry’s Director of Operations.  “I feel good, thank you, community! Thank you SO much!”

Since Wednesday, donors have been dropping by with both bags of groceries—and cash.  So far the pantry has collected $4,375 in cash donations.

Although the crisis may have been averted at Minnie’s, other pantries around North Texas are also seeing a huge increase in demand.

“Our shelves are getting pretty close to empty”, said Major Robert Winters at the Salvation Army’s McKinney location. “If you need some cream of mushroom soup, we’re in good shape… but, not for long, because that’ll go, too.”

According to North Texas Food Bank President and CEO Jan Pruitt, the heat wave and drought are creating a hunger ‘perfect storm.’

“There’s high utility bills, so families will decide whether to turn the air conditioner on or go to the grocery store, there are people still being unemployed, and at the same time, the drought, the heat is causing a reduced amount of food coming through our door from the government commodity side, “ said Pruitt.  “There is literally less food available to food banks.”

When asked about the long term impact of the current conditions, Pruitt put it bluntly:  “We’ve got big problems in front of us.”