Monday mornings are always busy at our Family Outreach Center, but this morning was more crowded than usual. I ended up lending a hand, along with our Events Coordinator, assembling emergency food boxes for the long line of families waiting. I was surprised by the number of them, most with small children, who were coming through for help making ends meet. Unfortunately, this isn't just my perception, the numbers are way up this year for people turning to the Mission and food banks in the face of joblessness, economic insecurity and poverty. According to a recent The National.ae article about our food box program,
Rescue missions are seeing especially high numbers of elderly people. Students and recent college graduates – a group they never used to hear from – have also started visiting. But families often tell the most heartbreaking stories.
“A mom came in last week and told me: ‘My husband and I are both working, but we just can’t make ends meet’,” said Pam DiPietro, who runs the Foothills Food Bank in Cave Creek, Arizona. “The couple had cut themselves back to one meal a day, just so they could feed their two children.”
According to St Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, which distributes food to 675 sites that serve the hungry across Arizona, including the Phoenix Rescue Mission, requests for emergency food boxes across the state have climbed more than 100 per cent in recent months. “We are now feeding 200,000 people a day,” said Kara Ritter, a spokesman for St Mary’s. For the fiscal year 2006-07, that meant 51 million pounds of food.
An unprecedented number of recipients are first timers – and not the type of people who normally turn up at food banks.
Sally Nieto is one such customer. The 65-year-old widow worked for 19 years at Motorola, the mobile phone maker. She used to be the kind of person who made donations to the Phoenix Rescue Mission. “I never imagined I’d be coming here for food one day,” Mrs Nieto said. But when her husband died last year, his protracted illness ate up their savings. Mrs Nieto now receives social security payments, but with the cost of living rising, her monthly cheque no longer covers the bills.
“By the time I get done paying the house, the power and filling my gas tank, there is nothing left for food,” she said. “How did it ever come to this?”
This Fox 10 News video shot at our Family Outreach Center also highlights the increasing demand for food we are facing.
We largely rely on the support of our donors to help feed families like the ones seen in the video and quoted in the article. Here's how you can help:
1. Donate Canned Goods to our Fill-A-Box, Feed-A-Family program.
2. Volunteer to assemble Food Boxes.
3. Support Phoenix Rescue Mission Online.
4. Share this blog with a friend.