Salvation Army Lt. Dave Kyle of Haines said this week his church is seeing an “unprecedented increase” in the number of people seeking its help for basic items like food and shelter.
Kyle said the number of local families served through the federal Emergency Food Assistance and Commodities program has increased from 32 to 68 in the past eight months. The program ships food to Haines that is distributed by The Salvation Army, he said.
As participants register for the program when they show up for food, there’s a lag between supply and demand, he said. “Last month, 70 households came and got food, where we were expecting 55. The numbers are increasing hugely,” Kyle said.
Kyle said food is distributed here three ways: Through the federal program, through the Salvation Army’s Emergency Food Program, and through the local food bank, a volunteer-led, monthly distribution program that collects food from local grocery stores. All three of the programs are based at The Salvation Army.
Kyle said donations to The Salvation Army allow the church to supplement the federal program when recipients draw down food available through monthly shipments. A donation of $36.45 provides a food box for a small family, including staples such as beans, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta and tuna. A $300 donation can provide utility or shelter assistance to help a family through difficult winter months.
The Salvation Army has provided about $3,000 in rental assistance this winter to date, he said. “I’m not going to see somebody on the street if I can provide rental assistance.”
Residents wanting to help out can donate food from a suggested list of items available at the church at Fifth Avenue and Union Street or through its Facebook page “Salvation Army Haines.” Checks can be made to the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 550, Haines, AK 99827. For more information, contact Kyle at 766-2470.