The holidays bring out some of the best aspects of our community. It’s a time that we reserve to do all the things we wish we could do more often, like spend time with our family and friends, volunteer, and give back to those who are less fortunate.
Now that we’re almost 4 years away from when the pandemic started, which set so many people back financially, and with the recent high inflation that seems to be no longer rising, but still a real factor that impacts everyday spending, we thought we’d check-in with two service organizations as we end the year.
Community Harvest Food Bank, located on Tillman Road, has been a vital resource in the fight against hunger in the Fort Wayne area since 1983. Recently, they have been seeing a significant rise in need for their services. Adam Roby, Volunteer Manager of the nonprofit says they are now serving almost 3 times the number of families at their Saturday distributions compared to prior to COVID in 2019. Each month continues to break their weekly records. Four of the five most recent weeks, the organization has distributed food to over 1,400 families just on Saturday alone.
This staggering statistic highlights the great financial pressure many experience on a daily basis, Development Director, Katie Savoie says. She shares that high rent, the recent rise in food costs, and greater interest loans have put a stranglehold on people who had been in a decent financial condition previously. Savoie notes that contrary to a common misconception, the people who find themselves in a place needing social services aren’t necessarily lazy or failing to support themselves. Rather, they often see people who are working multiple jobs or who suddenly find themselves in a life-changing situation, often out of their control, that forces them to reach out or come to a distribution for food.
As many struggling families sit down to enjoy a holiday meal, what about that furry family member under the table? No, not that crazy cousin.
The Humane Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry (formerly Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry) has also been experiencing exponential growth of need in the community. Chele Watson, Promises Resource Administrator and Manager of the Pantry says that their amount of distributed pet food has almost doubled in the past year, going from 140,000 pounds of dry pet food in 2022 to 230,000 pounds in 2023. “The explosive growth of pet food clients is a direct result of the ongoing financial instability in our community.” Watson continues, “Our job is to provide support that contributes to keeping families together, so the financial burden doesn’t end in a heartbreaking sacrifice of euthanizing or placing pets into our already crowded shelters.”
Each of the nonprofits that we spoke to said that while giving and volunteering around the holidays is a really great way to help make it a special time of year for those who are less fortunate, the real need continues after the holidays. Many of us often take for granted a simple trip to the grocery store. Imagine the struggle of having to make an often-inconvenient trip, on an exact day, at an exact time to a food distribution site or you and/ or your pet doesn’t eat this week. On top of this, for some, arranging transportation is also an added struggle to the whole situation.
How can you help? These service organizations would love to have you collect food for them, volunteer, or support them with a monetary donation. You can attend an upcoming fund or food-raising event or simply share it on social media. You can even become an advocate and organize your own mini-event in your neighborhood or workplace.
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