Charity sees demand soar for food
A charity dedicated to feeding the poor has provided breakfast for 140 people this week alone — and fed many more through its food bank.
Sarah Mardon, of the Eliza DoLittle Society, said demand for the service had rocketed since the recession hit, with many clients not falling into the traditional homeless category normally associated with the service.
Now the charity has introduced a hunger barometer to indicate how many people it feeds a week.
Ms Mardon, a volunteer with Eliza DoLittle, said: “We are feeding about 70 people at the Anglican Cathedral twice a week and if we were open every morning, it would be much more.”
When the meals service started in 2011, just five people showed up. But by that Christmas, around 100 people were fed.
In January this year, about 60 people took advantage of the service.
She added that in addition to the meals service the charity's food bank distributes groceries to the needy and supplies around 14 other food charities across the Island with ingredients for meals as part of its Daily Bread programme.
A local farmer also donates fresh vegetables free of charge.
Ms Mardon said: “At the food bank, people turn up with their shopping bags. People can come once every two weeks and, I can tell you, our cupboards are low.
“We have had a low donation rate from supermarkets because everybody is feeling the pinch. What we can give is not enough to feed a family for two weeks.”
Ms Mardon added the 10am breakfast programme on Mondays and Thursdays at the Cathedral had seen a marked change in the kind of clientele as well as in numbers.
She said: “It's not the traditional homeless man you see in the street. We are feeding families who have a choice of paying their Belco bill or feeding their families.
“And we are seeing a lot of people who have had jobs — we don't turn anyone away who is hungry.”
Ms Mardon added: “We have seen one man smartly dressed in a shirt and a silk tie. He had a job and is knocking on doors looking for another one, which is why he is dressed like that. Hopefully, he will get one soon.
“That's what made me think of a barometer of Bermuda's economic wealth, which would show the amount of mouths fed at the Cathedral. It's a good indicator of where we are as an Island.”
She continued: “We offer a bowl of cereal with milk and we like to offer something hot as well. It's very simple fare and we are only able to serve what's donated to us. We're entirely reliant on very kind donations from restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and warehouse distributors.
“Although a feeding centre may be in a mosque or a church and the food distributed by their volunteers, they will use food supplied by us.
“They may not be wearing an Eliza DoLittle shirt, but the food has come from our resources and contacts. We work with all these other agencies to try and help them be as efficient as possible and feed as many people as possible.”
The food bank, located opposite Fourways Inn on Cobbs Hill Road, Paget, is open between 10am and 4pm Tuesday to Friday.
More information on the work of the charity and where food is served can be found at www.elizadolittle.bm