Published: Oct 10, 2011 5:52 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla - The Lee County Schools Annual Canned Food Drive that helps feed thousands of needy families each year ends this week. The drive began October 3rd and runs through October 14th. This year, more than ever The Salvation Army is asking Lee County residents to help area schools that are participating.

With record numbers seeking assistance at its food pantry and homeless shelter the agency cannot keep up with the demand and shelves remain bare. Donations collected during the drive by area schools will help stock shelves so families won't be turned away Currently The Salvation Army is seeing an average of 75-80 families come in for food assistance each day, an increase of up to 300 percent compared to several years ago.

A total of almost 93,000 pounds of goods were collected in 2010 compared to approximately 91,000 in 2009. It was the first increase since 2006 when 141,000 pounds were collected. While The Salvation Army is hoping for an increase again this year, the economy in southwest Florida has taken a toll on many families that used to be able to donate.

The winner of this year’s canned food drive will be announced at a ceremony at Sally’s Café and Marketplace at 2400 Edison Avenue in Fort Myers on October 28th.