It's mid-morning at the food bank, and the waiting room is full of children.
They bounce impatiently on their fathers' knees, or sleep nestled in their mothers' arms, or play together on the floor.
A couple hours earlier, at opening time, the line of families stretched around the building at Lutheran Social Services of Nevada, on Pecos Road near Charleston Boulevard.
It's a trend food bank workers across the valley have watched grow since the economy tanked: more and more families in need.
"Before, we had mostly homeless individuals accessing food services," said Patrick Montejano, director of social services for Lutheran Social Services. "Now we have 20 percent homeless individuals and 80 percent families."
That need now transcends generations within families, says Julie Murray, president and CEO of Three Square Food Bank, an organization that supplies food to 307 local agencies that feed the needy.
"You see parents lining up for food with their little kids and those kids' grandparents," Murray said. "The faces of hunger have shifted from the homeless to middle-class families who have never had to access social services and are finding themselves having to go to food banks."
Suri, a mother of two who wouldn't reveal her full name, steers a shopping cart through the aisles of Lutheran Social Services' food bank while her mother also shops nearby.
Suri gets to pick out seven pounds of free food for each member of her family. Her mother, a senior citizen on a fixed income, gets 14 pounds.
"My husband works construction, and nobody's hiring," Suri said.
The family had to move out of an apartment -- they could no longer afford the rent -- and now shares a single room in a downtown weekly rental motel.
"What can I say? It's really tough," Suri said.
The Lutheran Social Services food bank opens at 7:30 a.m. and distributes food until it meets its daily quota of serving 80 individuals or family members.
"If we didn't cap it, we could be out of resources by the end of the week," Montejano said.
Downtown, the food bank at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada's food pantry also is bustling with families.
Minnie Brooks, 63, has long struggled to make ends meet on $674 a month in disability benefits. She visits the food bank "whenever I really get into need." She has come to the food bank along with several grandchildren and her two grown daughters, who also are struggling.
"It just seems like there's never enough," Brooks said.
One of her daughters, who won't give her name, said her hours and benefits at work recently were slashed, and aside from the food bank, she doesn't know how else to fill in the gaps.
People who are struggling to make rent, credit card and car payments lately have little left for food, said Phillip Hollon, residential services director for Catholic Charities.
The charity hands out 25 percent more food than it did a year ago to meet the need, and is considering expanding its food pantry hours, Hollon said. "With so many places cutting hours and services in this economy, we may need to."
The Catholic Charities food bank provides one bag of groceries -- which includes items such as rice, potatoes, tuna, chili and pasta -- for every two people in a household.
Three Square earlier this year completed a report on hunger that found that about 100,000 people in Clark County experience "very low food security," or have had to reduce their food intake or skip meals, based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Almost one in five Nevada children does not have access to enough food at home and must rely on federal aid or community food programs to meet his or her needs, according to the report.
Therein lies the good news amid all the need, Hollon and Murray said: There is help.
Community members have stepped up to meet the ever-increasing need by hosting food drives, donating money and volunteering time.
"We had one donor who went to Costco, bought pallets of food for us and loaded it onto a truck," Hollon said. "When I saw those pallets come off the truck, I thought, 'How wonderful.' "
The growing donations helped Three Square increase the amount of food it distributed from 10 million pounds in 2008 to 17 million pounds in 2009. This year, the charity is on track to distribute 20 million pounds of food to agency partners "and into the hands of thousands of people in need," Murray said.
"The community is coming together in ways I've never seen it come together. Because of that we've been able to get through this tough time and keep the flow of food going."
With the current level of giving, no one in Southern Nevada should be going hungry, Murray said.
The trickier part is reassuring people who are frightened to find themselves for the first time needing help.
"We want them to feel there's hope and there's help. We want them to feel like things are going to be OK."
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at email@example.com or 702-383-0285.