Members of the Pinellas County Democratic executive committee voted unanimously Monday to donate $1,000 to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic for its food bank.
“It’s Thanksgiving time. Some people in our community are hurting,” executive committee chair Susan McGrath said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
The decision to donate came after a SaintPetersBlog.com story about the plight of the food pantry run by the Free Clinic.
Donations have been low and the need is high, leaving the bank, which fed about 4,000 people last month, struggling to get staples – things like peanut butter, canned vegetables, canned soup, beans and pasta. The shelves are almost bare.
“We tend to hit these slumps [in giving],” said Beth Houghton, the Free Clinic’s executive director. “This is one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The pantry supplies food directly to families and others who need it. The majority of the food that’s given out from the pantry is canned or otherwise able to be stored. Each person who applies is given enough to feed the members of his family for up to three days. The clinic limits each person or family to one such handout a month.
The majority of recipients are the working poor who are trying to make ends meet, or those on Social Security or other fixed incomes, or people who’ve just had a hard month and need a bit of help to get over a rough spot.
In many cases, Houghton said, “they are making the buy-my-medicine or eat” decision. The pantry supplied food to about 42,000 such people last fiscal year.
McGrath said she realizes that the clinic might feel uncomfortable accepting a donation from a partisan political organization. If it does, she said, the executive committee will send out an email blast asking supporters to donate to the bank.