Rising Costs have Families Turning to Charity

May 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tough economic times are making it harder for Valley families to make ends meet. More and more are relying on charitable organizations to put food on the table.-------------------------------------------------------------------
Click Here for more information on non-profit organizations that provide food to low-income families
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For the Sawyer family a simple 4-bedroom apartment in Pinedale is the nicest home they've ever had. "This is the best we've ever done and that's only because the rent is based on my income," said Pamela Sawyer.

There is no furniture and three of their four kids sleep on the floor, "They both sleep in here for now, but hopefully one day we can get them twin beds," said Sawyer. Still, it's an improvement, after living a motel for 3 years. "Right now we are hoping furniture is in the near future, but it's down here on the priorities because I have to make sure we keep this, we have lights, they have food."

That food sometimes comes from Catholic Charities. Pam Sawyer works as a data entry clerk. But because her husband is disabled and she's the family's sole bread winner, even she's had to utilize their services.

"I don't think people really know. We see it here because of the services we provide, but I don't think people really know how hard it is for a lot of these families out there," said Lydia Gutierrez with Catholic Charities.

In the past 3 months, the charity has served 5,600 "new" families. "We would normally serve about 30 to 50 families a day, and right now we are running well over 100 day," said Gutierrez.

People come here looking for food, clothing, even emergency financial help to pay for rent or their electric bill. "I think it's the economy and what is happening out there in gas prices; and when you have to put that much more money in gas then you have cut back somewhere."

It's a similar situation at Food Link in Visalia which provides food to 85 non-profits in Tulare County. "The freezer is as empty as I've ever seen it and the food is going out much faster than it's coming in," said Sandy Beals with Food Link.

Food donations are down 25%, and they're paying more for the food they buy. Rice is now over a dollar a pound, up from 28 cents. "We know it's our job to make sure no one goes hungry and as always we are going to count on our local community to help us out."

At Catholic Charities, they worry this warehouse will be empty in a few months. They too are relying on the community's generosity. "We're all feeling it and it's a concern because what are we going to do? Because if money runs out how are these families going to eat?"

If you'd like more information on non-profit organizations that provide food to low-income families, go to our website at abc30.com and Click on "Hunger Help" at the bottom of the home page.

Saturday May 10th is the 16th Annual Letter Carriers Stamp-Out Hunger Food Drive. To participate, make sure to leave food next to your mail box or front door.

All the food collected will be delivered to Poverello House which will distribute the food to local food banks.


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