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Church issues urgent appeal to help meet demand for groceries

The Anglican church in Pembroke is appealing for help from the community due to an “unprecedented” demand for food for the hungry. St Augustine's, St Monica's and St John's, the churches within the Anglican Parish of Pembroke, give out free food vouchers and groceries every month but can't meet current demand.

Parish administrator Helen Wicks told

The Royal Gazette that 20 MarketPlace food vouchers worth $25 each for November were handed out within the first two days of the month. “It's unprecedented,” she said. “We have never had them go that quickly before. I think it's the fact that word has got around that they are available here.

“More people come in and come in at once. It's because of the terrible situation with the economy. People are becoming unemployed and the situation has got quite critical.”

The vouchers used to be for $50 but the amount was halved this year so more people could receive the aid. The church also dishes out free groceries donated by parishioners. But this month the pantry is almost bare due to the high number of people asking for assistance, according to Wayne Hackman, the parish's youth and children's minister. “Just the other day, there were five knocks on the door all in an hour,” he said. “We'd run out of food vouchers and then our pantry went dry within that day.

“It was just a little bit of an eye-opener to me to realise how people are struggling to even purchase groceries. It just rammed home for me how important it is for the local community to step up to the plate.”

He said since he arrived on the Island from the UK he'd noticed an increase in demand for the food vouchers and for a weekly free barbecue held at St Augustine's during the summer. “When I first arrived, the amount of money we could set aside each month covered the people who came in. We were able to give people a little bit more. Since January, we have had more and more coming into the office looking for assistance in purchasing groceries.

“We have got everybody coming in from the homeless who are on the streets 24/7 to people that have just had a tough break.

“Probably since before the summer, the provision hasn't been sufficient. This month it's gone in two days that's crazy! It just seems that if you haven't got any income coming in there is nowhere to get assistance other than what local churches are doing.”

The clergyman posted a message on Facebook this week in a bid to encourage donations. He wrote: “PLEASE HELP: Guys I've been working from the church office today and I'm overwhelmed by the amount of people who are coming in looking for food.

“I saw quite a bit of this in the UK but there was always a safety net. There is a real genuine need here in Bermuda at this time. The pantry is bare; we have nothing. Can you help? Would you be willing to provide food for the pantry, perhaps even you or your company donate food vouchers [or a] bag of tin/dry food each month?”

The parish has partnered with the Eliza Dolittle Society, a charity whose motto is “Serving the Homeless: A Hand Up not just a Hand Out”.

* Anyone interested in making a donation should call the church office on 292-5308.

Helen Wicks, parish administrator at St John's Anglican Church in Pembroke, sorts through food for the needy in the church pantry. Demand is now outstripping supply and the church is appealing for donations.

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Published November 25, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 25, 2011 at 6:59 am)

Church issues urgent appeal to help meet demand for groceries

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