Valley Charities Face Food Crisis

June 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
One charity will probably run out on Friday, and unless there's a big surprise hundreds of families will go hungry.A nearly empty warehouse and a totally empty freezer means a crisis is close at Catholic Charities, and the bags of food won't last long. "If we have 100 family days like we did today, we will be out by Friday." Said Lydia Gutierrez with Catholic Charities, "and then we'll probably have to close the doors unless we get major donations."

With gas prices going through the roof, food prices on the rise, and unemployment in the double digits in the Valley, they're busier than they've been in years. They have served 7,000 new families in the last few months.

Bobby Chapman is among the people collecting their daily bread. "I'm unemployed. You know, I have 2 kids and I need to try to keep them fed, so this is one of the places I come to get groceries for them."

That may not be an option for the next six weeks. The charity gets most of its funding from the local Catholic Diocese and the federal government, but its next big cash infusion won't come until late July.

The situation doesn't sound much better at Valdez hall, where the Fresno Falcons held a fundraiser Wednesday for the Poverello House and collected slightly less than last year. The homeless center's "Stamp out Hunger" food drive back in may yielded only half as many cans of food as last year's.

Kathryn Weakland with the Poverello House said, "I don't think people don't want to give. I think everybody's watching their pocketbooks and looking at what they're spending because everybody's feeling the pinch."

For Bobby Chapman, that pinch could force a new strategy to avoid starvation. "Oh man. I'd have to do something differently. Knock on my family's doors I guess. Gotta do something to survive."

There's one possible lifeline for local charities out of Sacramento. The state legislature is considering sending emergency food funds to local agencies.


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