Help Feed Those in Need

Beginning today, Tuesday June 10, Slow Food Charlotte will be collecting canned goods, especially peanut butter, fresh food and monetary donations to help feed the members of our community that are less fortunate than we are. We will have a volunteer at the Tailgate Market on Tuesdays to collect your generous donations. We will send the gifts on to Friendship Trays, Meals on Wheels or Loaves & Fishes so that your generosity can help make a difference during these hard times.

We also need volunteers to be at the Tailgate Market to collect these gifts. Please email thom@slowfoodcharlotte.org if you can help on a coming Tuesday.

Thank you all.

Here are a few comments from those working against hunger.

This report is from Unity Against Hunger and Poverty, a group made up of over twenty local hunger and poverty fighting agencies. The question was asked, “What are you seeing now?” In brief form, here are the answers.

The two major points you will see in these comments are:
This crisis arose very quickly.
Experienced leaders say that it is the worst they have ever seen.

Society of St. Andrew – Julia Webb-Bowden, Marilyn Marks
“New feeding ministries are rising every day. This is a trend across North Carolina caused by rising fuel costs, escalating food prices, stagnant wages and flat government assistance.”

Second Harvest Food Bank – Shay Merritt
“Higher numbers of agencies are coming in, agencies are reporting more requests and our transportation cost is 40% over what it was a year ago.”

Urban Ministries/St. Peters Soup Kitchen – Sandra Smith
“During the winter our numbers per day jumped from an average of 275 to 350/375 per day. During Room in the Inn, the numbers decreased but over the past 2-3 weeks they are back up. We had 349 today for lunch. We expect 400 tomorrow. I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve never seen it this bad.”

Urban Ministries/Room in the Inn – Liz Clasen
“With our Room in the Inn shelter program, we particularly saw a large increase with homeless women (a 40% increase).”

Jewish Family Services – Susan Proctor
“We are a small Loaves & Fishes pantry so when Loaves & Fishes hemorrhages, we bleed. We are getting less food from Loaves & Fishes. When I locked the pantry a couple of Friday nights ago – it was not low – it was bare – not a can on the shelf. And it had been fairly well stocked earlier in the week. I had never seen that before. People who used to donate food now need to use the pantry.”

“We generally average 140 something per month. Last month we had 209. This does not include the bags of groceries we keep made up for folks who just walk in off the street – close to an additional 80 people.”

Loaves & Fishes Emergency Pantries – Beverly Howard
“Loaves & Fishes has experienced a 23% increase in clients the first 3 months of 2008 as compared with 2007. We at Loaves & Fishes have never seen such a rapid increase in hungry people in our 33-year history.”

Crisis Assistance Ministry – Carol Hardison and Raquel Lynch
“A couple of weeks ago we had 225 people in our lobby. We had a 36% increase in the number of people we have to turn away for emergency rent, mortgage or utility assistance (the highest turn-away number in our history). This is a year-to-date figure (July ’07 – March ’08). We fear that the April figure will be much higher as the past three weeks have been unimaginable.”

(A “turn-away” means that we did not have capacity to see them the day they came. We only see the MOST URGENT (so if 200 show up, we can only see 100). They may come back another day, but that’s additional missed work hours, stress, risk, etc.)

“We are having people show up from the housing industry who have been without income for months (mortgage bankers/underwriters, real estate workers, etc.). Plus, renters whose owners are in foreclosure so they are getting kicked out and they can’t readily afford to move into a new place.”

Charlotte Emergency Housing – Karen Monteperto
“For several years now, we have been able to get some of the surplus cans that Loaves and Fishes had in their warehouse which helped us tremendously by providing residents with resources to stretch their food stamps. Last week, L&F told us they no longer have any surplus so will not be able to supply that in the near future.”

Community Outreach Christian Ministry/Harvest Kitchen – Elder Blease Turner
“On Thursday, April 24 we experienced our all-time record: We served 364 families from our food pantry in one day. Our numbers are skyrocketing and it’s all word-of-mouth.”

Samaritan House – Brad Goforth
Samaritan House is seeing an increase in its costs for both medicine and food. We are now spending approximately $300 every two weeks on food other than what we get from Second Harvest and Loaves and Fishes. Plus, the number of volunteers bringing meals is slackening. Two of our volunteers cited costs as a factor. Samaritan House houses up to eight guests and an additional three staff or volunteers per meal. Medicine costs have increased by 50%, some due to the severity of the illnesses we are seeing.

Presbytery of Charlotte/5 Cents A Meal Program – Dot Camp
“We have received all this year’s applications for the 5¢ A Meal grants. All across the board, the need has EXPLODED. Unfortunately, donations from the churches remain about the same as last year; therefore, we can't expand to increase our help. Rather, we have to reduce the help to all applicants. Any help for the hungry is sorely needed and would be appreciated.”

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