The recession has put a big strain on nonprofits. Charlotte-based Loaves and Fishes, which provides groceries for people in need, has certainly felt the strain. September marked an all-time high in the organization’s 35-year history, with just over 10,000 people helped, a 13 percent increase over last September. And of the 18 Loaves & Fishes locations in Mecklenburg County, the one in Davidson is the busiest, says executive director Beverly Howard.
On shattering misperceptions: Loaves and Fishes opened a pantry in 1997 at the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, a community center with a variety of health, education and social programs. For an area often associated with affluence, Howard says there are many people around Lake Norman who are in need. “There are an awful lot of low-income people that live in the area. Many work the kind of jobs that have been most affected by the recession, like construction and landscaping, and they’re really hurting.”
On serving all kinds: The Davidson Loaves and Fishes provided food for 1,312 people in September. The nonprofit provides a week’s worth of nutritionally balanced food. Most of the people they serve are single parents with one or two kids. But they also serve a growing number of grandparents raising their grandkids. “The middle generation has either gone somewhere looking for a job or is just not able to provide for their children.”
On a growing need: Most clients have jobs and housing. But in many cases any kind of emergency – a broken-down car, a sick child leading to missed work – can wreck their finances. And Howard said public need always increases during the winter, when seasonal work like construction and landscaping dries up and temperatures drop. “A lot of times it’s an issue of ‘Do I pay the heating bill or feed my family?’ And that’s where Loaves and Fishes steps in.”
Loaves & Fishes needs nonperishable foods, upright frost-free freezers and refrigerators, and money to buy food and to subsidize warehouse and delivery costs. www.loavesandfishes.org; P.O. Box 11234, Charlotte, NC 28220; 704-523-4333