Responding to the ‘New Poverty’

Posted by AMS / Wednesday, December 30, 2020

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In the past two months, AMS employees have gone into their bank accounts and contributed generously to make both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays better for local families. Churches and organizations across Los Angeles contributed as well, as people have become aware of the ‘new poverty’ brought about by job losses and the COVID-19 illness and lockdowns.

News in December reported that Byonce was donating $5000 grants to people facing foreclosure. Reports a few weeks earlier pointed to lines of cars five miles long in Atlanta waiting to receive food donations from Tyler Perry Studios. We even watched Russell Brand on YouTube, working at a food bank and delivering bags of groceries in order to bring attention to an emerging crisis.

In order to understand the impact of the pandemic, we looked into one of the oldest, and most consistent caretakers of the poor and homeless – the wonderful Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York City. The Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen has been around since 1982 in Chelsea on 9th Avenue and West 28th Street. We were fortunate to be able to interview a long-time volunteer with Holy Apostles, Donna Lamb.

Donna told us that they started seeing changes back in February when volunteers felt that they needed to stay at home due to the virus. The Kitchen had to suspend the volunteer program and employ staff, while asking administrators to pitch in on the floor. Employing chefs turned out well and things kept going.

Although the pandemic brought an end to indoor dining and many of the social services, the soup kitchen continued to provide hot meals for the people. Their Backpack Pantry Program provided food for soup kitchen guests, neighborhood children, and families with little access to food or the means to cook meals at home.

Donna explained that in the previous year they provided food for around 840 meals a week. In November of 2020 they provided enough food to prepare about 30,000 meals a week. This is a 3500 percent increase.

She said, “It has given me such joy, over the years, to volunteer at Holy Apostles. 2020 has brought such huge changes, but we have managed. What can we anticipate in 2021? I know that soup kitchens and pantries will need resources and I encourage everyone who can, to donate to an organization that serves the homeless or to a pantry that serves all who have need.”

For those who are doing well financially and not in need of food assistance or a stimulus, we hope you’re inspired to respond to the ‘new poverty’ and donate to meet increasing food and housing needs in 2021.

Happy New Year!!! Let’s make it beautiful.

Please enjoy an article from Grist.org: What California’s farmworkers can teach us during a season of giving.