Food Banks Struggle to Keep Shelves Filled, Clients Served
Rising prices for fuel and food are hurting the delivery of social services, church agencies across the country report.
"People think that food banks get everything donated. That's absolutely not true," said Vickie Riddle, executive director of Catholic Charities in Springfield, Mass. People are getting less at food banks because charities face increasing demand in other areas, she said.
Riddle's agency could get 100 gallons of home heating oil and pay a reconnection fee for $150 during the winter of 2006-2007, according to Riddle. This past winter, without the reconnection fee going up, the price jumped to $352.
Catholic Charities of Tennessee, which covers the 38 counties of the Nashville diocese, runs the Loaves and Fishes thrice-weekly soup kitchen. Last year, it served 140 meals a day on average. This year, the average is 170, according to program administrator Wendy Overlock.
Client numbers at Loaves and Fishes mirror the spike in Springfield. Riddie said her agency served 525 people in 2005-2006, 1,590 in 2006-2007, and 1,670 already in 2007-2008. "At the end of our year [June 30] we will have served over 2,000 families," Riddle said. …