Some People Are Really Hurting Out There

updated with contact information

Recently, Senator Elizabeth Dole's office asked Marilyn Marks of the Society of St. Andrew to compile a report on hunger in our area. She did, to sobering effect. I (and other media outlets) was emailed a copy of the report by Moira Quinn of Charlotte Center City Partners. With her permission, I am reprinting the report here. Please, read it. And after you read, call one of the agencies, and offer to help:

A Snapshot of the Non-Profit Agencies in the Current Charlotte/Metro Economy
April 28, 2008

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, 704-553-1730
“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, 704-376-1785
“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, 704-347-0278
“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, 704-347-0278
“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, 704-364-6594
“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, 704-523-4333
“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 704-371-3001 ext. 113/115
“A couple of weeks ago we 225 people in our lobby, a near record. “We have had a 36% increase in the number of people we have to turn away for emergency rent, mortgage or utility assistance.  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, 704-335-5488
“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, 704-333-4280 ext. 107

“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.”

Presbytery of Charlotte/5 Cents A Meal Program – Dot Camp, 704-262-9057
“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.”

Surely you have some food, or time, or money that you can donate to at least one of these groups. Pick up the phone; give them a call.