The startling news last week that more than 1,000 people on Martha’s Vineyard were served in January alone by the Island Food Pantry is cause for both celebration and sorrow.

On the positive side, it is heartening to see that more people in need are able to get nutritious meals without the requirement of stigmatizing paperwork. People who are hungry should not have to prove it. But the sharp increase in demand over previous years, mostly among Island families, is alarming.

It is hard to get a fix on how many people live year-round on Martha’s Vineyard, but using a generous estimate of 17,000, that represents more than six percent of the population.

Are there malingerers among this group? Perhaps, but there are also many low-wage workers who can only find work in the summer season when another percentage group swoops in. It is during these cold, quiet days of winter that the real costs of our seasonal economy come due.