Food charities face falling donations, rising need

April 29, 2008 2:22:49 PM PDT
Mortgage foreclosures, soaring gas prices, rising food costs - the combination of factors puts increasing pressure on those who serve the needy.The troubled economy is causing problems for just about everyone, but it is becoming even harder feed the hungry.

Three days a week, Catholic Charities on LaSalle Street distributes groceries. The non-profit typically serves low-income clients, but recently there are more working clients and clients recently out of work.

"I'm seeing folks I've never seen before," said Christine Dykes-Sorrells, Catholic Charities. "If I were not working, then I would be at somebody's door."

Gonul Civelek is working for a non-profit, but it's not enough.

"It's very expensive. You have to make a choice between paying the bills and eating. It is very difficult and not pleasant at all," said Civelek.

Tyrone Jones lost his job as a nursing assistant in January.

"It's hard to get another job because you have to start all over again," he said.

This food pantry usually serves 6,500 clients a month, but now they're seeing nearly 9,000 clients monthly.

Much of their stock comes from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, where they're seeing growing demand for food assistance from all food pantries and they're facing more challenges collecting donations.

"It's harder than ever for us to get food. It costs us more to operate. We have an increase in our fuel costs at the Greater Chicago Food Depository," said Kate Maehr, Greater Chicago Food Depository.

David Prendergast is the vice president of food sourcing for the Global Foodbanking Network. The network offers hunger relief in 15 countries. He says the same scenario is being played out worldwide.

"Prices have risen significantly and rapidly. And that is pushing millions of people who are on the edge over the edge," said Prendergast said.

As food relief workers struggle to keep up with the need, they wonder how they'll keep up as the need continues to grow in a worsening economy.

Useful Links

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Catholic Charities

The Global Food Banking Network

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