Churches, Charities Seeing Increases In Need As Food, Gas Prices Rise

Wednesday, March 9th 2011, 8:04 pm
By: News 9

Jacqueline Sit, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- With food and gas prices going up, local churches are struggling to keep up with the needs of some families.

One church sees nearly 80 families a week at the beginning of each month, but that number jumped to 120 at the end of last month. And with prices rising, the number of people looking for help is expected to keep going up.

At the Corpus Christi Catholic Church, the pantry is only half full and they've had to cut down on the number of families they feed. The church started serving 41 zip codes two years ago, but now they are unable to help as many in need.

"Lately we've decided to limit us to the 14 zip code in the northeast sector of town because we wouldn't be able to give two weeks food to all the families that were coming," said Fr. Jack Zupez.

They're not alone. Other churches around the metro are also struggling. The Catholic Charities have seen a 20 percent spike in meeting families' needs, but said they're not seeing an increase because of gas prices yet.

"Typically it doesn't impact us immediately as you know with the past two or three weeks gas prices have increased so rapidly but we will see the effects more on the long term for people who are paying more now for gasoline ," said Catholic Charities Exec. Director Tim O'Connor.

Both men say as Lent begins now is the time to reach out to our neighbors.

"This is a sector of town that's suffering the most I feel," said Friar Zupez.

"I think that's what charity is all about. I think as we begin Ash Wednesday, as people are called to give alms and look out for their neighbor, that it's a wonderful message that Lent brings us at this time when prices are high and people's needs are increasing," said O'Connor.

Both Catholic Charities and the church turn people to other resources if they can't meet their need on site, but because of rising prices, other charities are also seeing drops in donations and increases in those in need.