July 14, 2008
Soup Kitchens Feeling the Pinch: Charities Hit Hard By High Food and Gas Prices
By Tom Risen, Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.
Jul. 14--Funding and volunteers for local soup kitchens are even more necessary as the charities are hit hard by the costs of food and gas.Over-consumption over nine of the past 15 years has depleted grain storehouses worldwide, and rising gas prices affect all food prices by increasing the cost of shipping.
Gas prices also make it expensive for volunteers to commute to the charities, according to Delores Zuniga, director of the Lord's Table soup kitchen in Victorville.
"A lot of people don't make the drive anymore, only those who can afford it," Zuniga said. "Everything we buy for daily cooking is more expensive. The prices get worse every month for cooking oil, meat products, sugar, milk, eggs, tea, and especially the paper plates and plastic silverware."
The soup kitchen is holding more dinners and fundraisers to pay for increasing costs.
"We still give the same amount of food, but it comes from the San Bernardino food bank," Zuniga said. "People are hurting all over, so donations have not increased. The Post Office food drive, which came from private donations, was a big help."
Moses House in Victorville provides non-emergency transportation for pregnant women, and the increase in gas prices have been eating at its budget, said Assistant Director Matthew Coughlin.
Also troubled by the economy is the Salvation Army, which has reported lower donations and increased calls for help, according to Lynne Pachman, manager for the Salvation Army's Victorville office.
"Phone calls requesting assistance for food, gas, electricity and rent have gone up 200 calls each month," Pachman said. "For April we had 2,421 calls. You can tell the need is really increasing with the costs of gas, groceries and utilities going up and so many people out of work. Seniors on a fixed income especially are pressed harder than usual. We are having a canned- food drive in July because our pantry is getting low."
Also trimming its budget is Our Lady of the Desert Catholic Church in Apple Valley, which has bought less canned meats and more peanut butter, said Linda Stonesifer, business manager for the church.
"We're seeing more people in need of food, gas and shelter," Stonesifer said. "As a church community, we're hanging in there funding the General Aid program. We buy lots of bulk food to cut costs."
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