The Salvation Army Community Meals program which serves a breakfast and dinner to hungry residents in the Metro-Richmond area hit a new landmark in the number of meals served in a single month. For the month of January the program served a total of 5,751 meals to hungry individuals and families, the previous high was a total of 4,620 meals served in December 2013.
“We initially heard a lot of people saying that the cut in food stamps wasn’t going to affect them that greatly,” said Cherry Lee, Case Manager at The Salvation Army. “These numbers don’t lie though, many people suffered a reduction of anywhere from $11 to $36 a month and they came to us for help making up for that decrease.”
Effective November 1, 2013, The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also referred to as food stamps, lost the boost it had previously received from the 2009 Recovery Act which meant a decrease in benefits to nearly every household in the country on SNAP. In Virginia, there are 941,000 SNAP recipients, 11% of the population, who, for a household of four, will lose $396 annually in SNAP benefits. (See Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for full report data.)
“This is a big deal,” said Toni Hutchinson, Case Manager at The Salvation Army. “We had a women who used to just bring her own two kids to dinner, now she brings her neighbor’s four kids as well.”
Since the beginning of May, The Salvation Army has offered the Community Meals feeding program to hungry citizens in the Metro-Richmond area. The program had previously been offered by the Freedom House and was continued by The Salvation Army after the Freedom House closed. The Community Meals program receives support from several community churches, schools and organizations who help with both food preparation and serving.
“We are so blessed to have a great group of volunteers and supporters who are passionate about feeding the hungry,” said Interim Volunteer Coordinator Joanna Brown. “We average four nights a week where a volunteer group prepares and delivers these meals to our kitchen to be served, that makes a big difference.”
The program offers breakfast every weekday beginning at 5:15 a.m. and ending at 6:15 a.m. and offers dinner seven days a week beginning at 6:15 p.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m. For volunteer opportunities, please contact Joanna Brown at The Salvation Army at (804) 591-3826.