By Herald on May 7, 2021.
Tim Kalinowski – Lethbridge Herald
The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen is asking for community support after experiencing a drop in financial donations over the past few months.
“Our expenses per month are about $20,000, and since January this year we have seen about a 50 per cent reduction in our funding,” explains Soup Kitchen executive director Bill Ginther. “So which means we are getting about half of what we need. That becomes a concern very quickly.”
Ginther says the organization has been drawing on its reserves to keep operating in order to serve its 7,000 meals per month, but it can only keep that up for a limited amount of time.
“We are fortunate as an organization we have a pretty good reserve account, but if we keep at this particular pace we would run through that in about eight months and then we would have to say we’re done,” confirms Ginther. “We know that’s not going to happen, and people will step up and help us.”
Ginther believes there are various reasons for the drop in funding. The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen remains unable to hold its usual fundraising events due to public health restrictions, and there are fewer grants available at the moment, he states. Ginther also says there seems to be some confusion among donors where to send their financial contributions as merger talks with The Mustard Seed remain ongoing. The Mustard Seed is reporting an upswing in donations from Lethbridge residents over the same period of time, he says, but the organizations are not merged– these plans were indefinitely delayed after The Mustard Seed had its application to open an emergency sober shelter in Lethbridge quashed by city council earlier this year. And finally, he explains, it likely has something to do with pandemic fatigue.
“People have grown weary, as we all have … people just don’t know what’s coming and when this will end,” Ginther says. “I think there are a lot of people that don’t have employment, and a lot of agencies are closed. So that affects peoples’ disposable income, and you see that here as well.”
Ginther says on a more positive note food donations remain as high as ever, with about $50,000-$60,000 worth of food coming in per month. He points to the recent donation of 2,000 lb. of potatoes to the Soup Kitchen from the Miltow Hutterite Colony as a great example, but, Ginther says, the organization cannot operate on food donations alone.
“We have fixed costs we have to pay, and we really don’t have an option,” he states. “We just want to say to others if you want to help out those who have nothing; this is a really good time. There is a need, and we see the need better than most people because we are on the ground every day. We see the people; we know the needs. And so if people are willing to help us out, they just need to give me a call. If they want to do an e-transfer, they can also do that. I guess I just want to say: we have got people to feed. Can you help us?”
To learn more about donating financially to the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen visit lethbridgesoupkitchen.ca or call Bill Ginther at 587-220-8688.
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