December 2, 2007: Serving the Needy

February 25, 2008 5:10:09 PM PST
This NewsViews focuses on two of the area's most respected non-profits that serve the needy: the Salvation Army, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The Salvation Army is trying to increase its collections by a million dollars this year. It recently announced a $110-million-dollar gift from the late Joan Kroc, the widow of McDonalds founder Ray Kroc. They money will finance a community center that the Salvation Army hopes to open by the year 2010.

The Chicagoland Depository and others nationwide face serious problems. Demand is up, and donations are down. Higher costs of milk, eggs, other food, gasoline, rent, and medical expenses are being blamed for the higher demand. Experts say lower stock prices and the mortgage crisis resulted in reduced cash donations.

Also, firms are doing a better job of handling food (fewer dented cans, etc., which results in lower donations of food to depositories). Also, with food costs rising, the feds are buying less surplus food, and donating less.

Adding to depository problems: higher gasoline costs make it more expensive for them to deliver food to pantries, shelters, and food banks.

Our guests are Lt. Col. David Grindle, commander of the Salvation Army's Chicago Metropolitan Division, and Kate Maehr, executive director of the depository.