By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia non-profit that provides meals to the homeless and hungry is sounding the alarm. As KYW Community Affairs reporter Cherri Gregg tells us, the organization says in-kind donations for its Fall food drive are down 70 percent.

“Typically we see, literally tons of food coming through our doors, but we’re not seeing that this year,” says Elizabeth Bowers, director of development for Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. On Friday, she stood in the center of the organization’s food storage room 13th and Callowhill. She says by this point in the year, there are hundreds of bags of food and dozens of crates filled with non-perishable items, but not today.

(credit: Cherri Gregg/KYW)

(credit: Cherri Gregg/KYW)

___

“Most of them are half empty,” she says, referring to plastic bins stacked against the wall, “we only have 12 that are even full.”

Bowers says the mission provides three hot meals, serving more than 500 people a day. They can afford to do it because in-kind food donations keep costs to roughly $1.95 a plate. But bare cupboards mean they may have to resort to buying food, which could deplete cash reserves.

“We’ve only received about a third of what we normally receive at this time,” says Dick McMillen, executive director.

He says the economy and warm weather has slowed donations for the Fall food drive and it could impact their ability serve Thanksgiving. So they’re hoping the community steps up.

“Whether it’s churches or offices or families that want to get together and do a food drive,” says McMillen, “we make it easy for folks. We’ll provide bags and for larger donations, we even do a pick up.”

As for what they need, Bowers says non-perishable canned or boxed food items are best.

“Vegetables, fruits, pastas, pasta sauces, those are our staples,” she says, “we also need breakfast food so cereals, granola bars, grits, pancakes, we need it all.”

Looking ahead, the mission serves Thanksgiving for four hours and hundreds show up. With donations down, it could impact their busiest serving of the year. But they are determined.

“We’re definitely feeling the pinch,” says Bowers, “but we’ll do what we have to do to make Thanksgiving and every other meal happen, we’re not going to stop serving.”

To find out how to organize a food drive for Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, go to http://www.sundaybreakfast.org/food-drive/.

You may also be interested in: