The number of people in Erie County who lack the resources to provide food, shelter and medical attention for themselves and their families has significantly increased in recent months. The demand for food assistance in Erie County food pantries increased by 100% since 2007, and is likely to increase more in 2010. The Volunteers of America reports that the Crossroads Homeless Shelter is booked beyond its capacity of 70, to currently 85 residents, with a waiting list of many more. In January 2009, an annual count of people living on the streets in Sandusky shows 185 homeless, compared to last year’s number of 119. The number of families living on the street has increased by 70% in one year. As a result of funding cuts by the county, the Crossroads Shelter has had to drastically cut back on the health clinic and support for prescription drugs they have provided in the past to their clientele.
To help our neighbors in need, the Erie County Foundations Council provided $60,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank and the Volunteers of America/Crossroads Shelter for a “Safety Net” grant. The grant supports Second Harvest Food Bank’s nine food pantries throughout Erie County, and also funds an onsite nursing clinic and prescription drug program for the Volunteers of America/Crossroads Shelter residents.
A county wide food drive to benefit the Erie County food pantries was conducted in October to collect food, toiletries and baby care items and to increase public awareness and support for those in dire need in our community. The food drive was co-sponsored by the Community Foundation, First Presbyterian Church, the Second Harvest Food Bank, the United Way of Erie County, and the Volunteer Center. More than 50 businesses and service clubs served as collection sites, as well as a number of schools and youth-serving organizations.