Charity says cost of providing food for needy has almost doubled
The cost of supplying food to people stricken by unemployment has nearly doubled for the Salvation Army since Christmas.
Family Services Manager Lynn Gordon confirmed that monthly costs to purchase basic food staples is now in the region of $18,000, compared to $10,000 just six months ago and the Army has been inundated with pleas for help to pay household utility bills.
In fact, Divisional Commander Major Shawn Critch said the impact of the recession and related spin off effects like unemployment is reaching crisis proportions.
There is no doubt that this will be a challenging year as the overall demand is reaching a critical point, he said.
The Salvation Army in Bermuda has committed $1.1 million in support of its social programmes for the year. Major Critch said: This, in partnership with the Government of Bermuda and other internally generated revenue will result in a $2 million investment in our community.
We do two main fundraising appeals each year and the next one is now scheduled for Christmas, he said. But the spring fundraising campaign is running below target.
The demand at our Community and Family Services is currently average 325 families per month. This is a significant increase from where we would have been in 2009.
The sustainability of the program depends heavily on our annual fundraising appeal as well as corporate sponsorships/partnerships in the community. We believe in meeting the need within the community and our staff have had to look and different approaches to make it possible.
Our feeding programs are also seeing a significant increase and we are working through plans to ensure sustainability and financial viability, said Major Critch.
Our front line workers get to hear stories of personal struggle and challenge as they work to create an opportunity for change in the lives of others. We could not do what we do without our ability to serve the community from a position of trust.
The residents and corporate community of Bermuda make that possible as they give in support of our annual fundraising appeal, he said.
For the team on the front line, it has been a major juggling act to help as many people as possible in recent months.
Sometimes were ordering more food every week, and it has to be paid for. We started to see the increase in demand just before Cup Match last year, now were dealing with close to 400 people each month, thats up from 280 last year, she said.
Things have gotten tremendously worse than what it was. We have at least 4,000 people in our data base for all the services provided by the Army.
And she said the face of those in need has changed from the typical homeless guy on the street, to women with young children who have no food in their homes at times due to unemployment.
This will be a long, hot summer, hardly a week goes by without someone coming in to say my children have nothing to eat and there is nothing at home to feed them, she said.
Twelve years on the job and she said: This is the first time Ive ever seen it like this, its going to get worse before it gets better and I dont believe its going to get better anytime soon.
One day we handed out grocery food items to 115 people in just three hours, when we used to do 180 people a month, she added.
With the demand for help so great in the midst of a recession raising funds for support is a major challenge. But through it all Major Critch said: We believe that the measure of any society is how well it cares for its weakest citizens.
There is an integration of the mission of the organisation with the social realities of a community in order to give a voice to the diverse issues of poverty, homelessness and addiction and the impact on individuals and families he said.
That mission has been present in Bermuda since its establishment in January 1896.
From the early days of The Salvation Army founders William and Catherine Booth shared a strong commitment to the poor and marginalised in the East End of London, England, that continues to shape the social expression of the work of the Army internationally he said.
And despite the recession they will forge ahead to meet the increasing demand for help in the current recessionary climate, at a time when the need for help is greater than ever before.
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