LAFAYETTE — St. Joseph’s Diner needs help restocking its food pantry because of an increase in need for its meal and other food programs, the diner announced recently.

“Compared with the same quarter last year, attendance at the Diner has increased 32 percent,” diner officials said in a news release. “In 2010, St. Joseph Diner saw an average of 5,836 patrons per month. This year that number jumped to an average of 7,698 per month.”

A decline in donations has created a strain on the diner’s finances, with it exceeding its annual budget for food purchases less than five months into the fiscal year, officials reported.

Typically, the diner budgets $4,000 annually for food purchases, with that amount based on a four-year historic spending trend, but since July, about $10,000 has been spent because of the lack of donated food, explained Kimberly Boudreaux, executive director of Lafayette Catholic Service Center in an email response. The nonprofit organization operates the diner. In the Spring, the diner will begin growing its own food in an organic garden to provide fresh produce for meals, she added.

The diner has provided warm lunches at no cost to the hungry since 1983 and “has been a place of hope for those facing hunger,” Boudreaux stated in a news release.

“We have had an outstanding amount of volunteers serving with us this year and during this holiday season, but these food and monetary donations are essential to sustaining our operations, as the need continues to grow,” Boudreaux stated. “We ask families, businesses and organizations to donate to help us fill our shelves this holiday season.”

Cooked, canned and frozen food may be dropped off at the diner, 613 W. Simcoe St. daily from 7 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The diner is in need of meat, rice, cooking oil, flour, sugar, canned fruits and vegetables (especially large No. 10 cans), beans, soups and other nonperishable food items. Cash donations and gifts may also be donated for food purchases.

Since 1983, the diner has served hot lunches daily to the general public. It also provides breakfast and supper to residents of the St. Joseph Shelter for Men and St. Michael Center for Veterans. Through its other food programs, each week, volunteers deliver 37 meals to the homebound, and 75 low-income seniors have access to bread and sweets, supplemental food boxes monthly and holiday baskets during Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The diner also provides emergency food boxes to those in crisis through a partnership with the agency (337) 232-HELP.

For more information or to schedule a pick up, contact Autumn dela Houssaye at (337) 232-8434 or by email at Monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 3177, Lafayette, LA 70502 or online at