Chester Eastside is expanding its food program in the face of urgent need and new challenges – News from Chester Eastside, Inc.

nov-28-16       Numbers can be numbing: The equivalent of more than 120,000 meals provided by
Chester Eastside, Inc., in a year. Over a thousand people receiving food in the month of
October alone. But behind every one of those statistics is an individual or family
struggling just to get by: a person with a disability; a young mother raising a family on
her own; an elderly person beyond the work years. Or just somebody laid off from a low-
paying job and needing a temporary lift to get back up and keep going.
       Already one of the largest such operations in the area, Chester Eastside is looking
to expand its food program: being open more days each week, adding one or more
another sites. That means a greater effort from everybody with a stake in Chester
Eastside’s mission of meeting basic human needs, helping people of all ages be all that
they can be, and working for a more just society.
nov-28-16-1
       Nearly half of the people being served by the Chester Eastside Food Center are children.
A new report by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) shows the toll that
poverty is taking on children in Delaware County as a whole. Needless to say, Chester,

reputed to be one of the most poverty-beset cities in the nation, is a special case in point

in that regard. In the County overall, the share of children experiencing economic and
related hardships was higher in 2015 than in the depths of the recession of 2008. The rate
of poverty among children was 14.1% as compared with 5.6% for seniors. And child
poverty has immediate ramifications for everything from child wellness to success in
school to the chances of winding up in prison.

New Challenges

     The timing for the expansion couldn’t be better. Since the Great Depression of the 1930s, government at all levels has provided the social safety net that is the mark of any
civilized society. But there are signs that government may be less of a resource for social
welfare programs in the future, at least in the near term. As one person close to the
Washington scene put it recently, “We the people have the responsibility to take care of

the indigent in our society. It’s not the government’s job.”

       While ‘we the people‘ can be interpreted as neighbors looking out for their
neighbors, an admirable sentiment to be sure, in reality in a place like Chester, struggling
with major economic challenges, it boils down to the lion’s share being borne by agencies
like Chester Eastside working together to create their own social safety net. There are
many such agencies at work in Chester, doing a great job of looking after those in need.
Now they will be facing new challenges, very likely with less help from government

programs.

Hidden costs

      What people sometimes overlook are the hidden costs behind every one of Chester
Eastside’s programs: managing the basic agency functions, keeping the lights and heat
on, paying for custodial services, and maintaining and upgrading the premises. Think of it
as the ‘overhead’ for running any operation.

      In this holiday season, as you think about gift giving, you are encouraged to think about a special gift to Chester Eastside, Inc. It’s one of those gifts that never stops giving, in lives sustained and a better start in life for the next generation and for generations after that.

     Chester Eastside, Inc., P.O. Box 36, Chester, PA 19016, is a 501.c.3 tax-exempt organization. You can give on line at http://www.chestereastside.org via major credit card or Pay Pal or designate a contribution to Chester Eastside in your United Way donation (#8253).

 

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By timmreardon