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Needy flood increasingly strapped Phoenix charities

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The grim economy has driven Valley residents to turn to charities of last resort: shelters and food banks.  The economy is also taking a toll on the non-profits that are helping them.  St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance gave away 70 percent more food to needy families this past December than it did the same month in 2007.  Officials say food programs will be scaled back unless they receive more donations.

In six months, the number of people who line up for a free breakfast has roughly doubled at downtown Phoenix’s Human Services Campus. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an agency that serves meals there, had to lay off eight workers and stopped serving lunch to the needy in Sunnyslope because donations are down.  At the campus, volunteers and employees help handle housekeeping duties because of staff cutbacks, one official said.

Each night, more than 300 people sleep in the parking lot of one Phoenix homeless shelter for men because there’s no room left inside of the building.  Central Arizona Shelter Services, the non-profit that runs that shelter and two others, lost $118,000 of the $839,000 that it used to get annually from Phoenix, a victim of city budget cuts.  Maricopa County, another major funding source, is weighing whether to cut its CASS contribution by half. Maricopa County contributes $600,000 to CASS programs, roughly 10 percent of its $6 million annual operating budget, Jennifer Dangremond, CASS’s development director.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]