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Friday, May 28, 2010

Starvation Army Reprise

The Salvation Army is at it again. An organization/church with assets and money, Billions of dollars, equal to or if not more than the Catholic Church is once again crying poverty.

The following stories have been put out this week by the Nanaimo Bulletin and Daily News. Following these are some comments I made at the request of the editor of the bulletin who saw my comment "There is more to this than is being said, some investigative journalism is in order," to the Daily News story and wanted elaboration. These comments/elaboration were also sent to the Daily News.

There is a lot of info here but I encourage reading it all. Then I also engourag writing the BC Divisional Office to express your disgust.
Major Brian Venables - Divisional Secretary for Public Relations and DevelopmentBritish Columbia Division
Address:The Salvation Army 3833 Henning Drive, Burnaby BC V5C 6N5
Phone: (604)296-3821Fax: (604)291-0345 Cell: (778)227-7291
E-mail: ...

Sally Ann meal programs in jeopardy I have put the full text to this link in because my experience has shhown that after a period of time links to past Bulletin stories do not work

By Rachel Stern - Nanaimo News BulletinPublished: May 23, 2010 2:00 PM
The Salvation Army is seeking help from the community to continue its meal programs.
The organization is losing $250,000 a year and is exploring options to cut costs or get more funding. “We cannot continue to lose money,” said Rob Anderson, Salvation Army director of Nanaimo community ministries. The Salvation Army wants to create a volunteer task force to examine the meal program, how it is delivered and how to save money.

The organization recently put a call out to members of the Nanaimo Working Group on Homelessness, of which the Salvation Army is a member, for help. While the church also operates a shelter and thrift stores, the lunch and dinner programs are the only areas to find savings, Anderson said. “It’s gotten to the point where we can’t go it alone anymore,” he said.

The problems the religious organization is facing is increasing in demand – 200 to 250 people were sitting down for the lunch program on average last fall – and increasing overhead costs.
The kitchen employees are unionized, so the Salvation Army can’t bring in volunteers to cut costs. “It ties our hands on what we can do,” said Anderson.

The Salvation Army’s operating budget for the year is $3.8 million. It receives about $700,000 in provincial and federal funding, while remaining $3 million must be fundraised. The New Hope Centre takes about $1.1 million to operate and the meal program costs about $500,000 a year. On average it serves about 6,500 to 7,000 meals each month – about 3,000 of those meals are given out for free.

Gord Fuller, a member of the working group and chairman of the 7-10 Club Society, said a clear accounting of the programs is needed. “We would like to get the breakdown on exactly why it’s not working,” said Fuller, about the Salvation Army’s meal programs. “They have the money in place, so why can’t they?”

Fuller said the 7-10 Club spends about $110,000 a year on its breakfast and lunch programs, serving an average of 125 bagged lunches a day. It also pays its kitchen staff to prepare the food. Unlike the Salvation Army, it doesn’t charge for any meals. The Society is also looking to partner with community organizations to get volunteer help on weekends to offer service seven days a week. Fuller said he might be interested in joining the task force to help the Salvation Army, if it clearly presents where the money is going.

Anderson said the meal program will not be cancelled, but the organization needs to be proactive. Cancelling the meal programs would hit the community hard, Fuller said.
“In the event that it does close, it will be devastating,” he said. “Who will pick this up?”
Anderson asks any community group willing to help or be on the task force to contact the Salvation Army at 250-754-2621.

Daily News
Budget crunch may end free meals
Even the headline is wrong in this story, lunch at the Sally cost $1.00 and Dinner $2.00.

Opinion: Salvation Army now needs our support
Seems to me they already get it to the tune of millions of dollars and food donations from the community.

Points to Ponder

Lets start with the easy ones first. Volunteers not aloud because of union? I would want to see the contract with the union and where it states such. They have and still do use volunteers. I am sure if both the Daily News and the Bulletin were to check their archives they would find stories re this and if someone were to go to the S/A they would see volunteers.

250 - 300 people accessing meal program. When they started charging for dinner their numbers dropped to 70. From what I here they are no more than that for dinner. Lunch numbers, prior to the $1.00 charge, were around 125, this told to me by Rob Anderson. Since the charge the numbers have dropped significantly. During the penny campiagn the numbers counted were around the 70 range. This could be easily determined by having someone count the people going in.

Budget of meal programs. Reported to Bulletin $500,000, reported to Daily News $400,000. Why is the budget so high? How much does charging for meals bring in? They get the lions share of donations from the community in both money and food, much of the latter going to the meal programs. How much of a savings to the overall cost is this? When they talk budget are the estimated cost of food donations factored into the overall cost.

Union wages; When I spoke to Rob Anderson and asked him what the staff were being paid the largest wage was a little over $12.00hr. The 7-10 Club pays its cook $15.00hr and it is not union. They do not have that many staff at the S/A meal program so what is the total in wages.

Did they really lay off staff?

"The Salvation Army’s operating budget for the year is $3.8 million" "The New Hope Centre takes about $1.1 million to operate and the meal program costs about $500,000 " from Bulletin.
Cost of New Hope and Meal Program 1.6 million. Where does the other 2.2 million come in? Where does the $250,000 shortfall fit into all this?

Nowhere do they mention the Meal programs as being a losing proposition just that it would be the easiest to cut. How much was raised by the Kettle Campaign, Monies to go directly to community programs? How much is raised in their Thrift Stores and where does this money go? How much money is raised throughout the year fundraising in Nanaimo? Perhaps the biggest question is How much of what is raised in Nanaimo actually stays in Nanaimo?

It receives about $700,000 in provincial and federal funding. On top of this they are housing federal parolee's in the transitional Housing, Housing that should have gone to local or homeless individuals. We know they charge far more for the parollees than they would get from someone on income assistance. How much?

How can they afford to open a 3rd store if they are running a $250,000 deficit? Are they really running a deficit?

From the Daily News
"While unpleasant, Anderson said the meal program is the most logical program to cut because other community groups can step in to provide a similar service.”It's the one program that takes very little capital to replace.” It’s the one program that takes very little capital to replace. There's more of a chance that a meal program can come from other organizations rather than the capital expense of a facility like the New Hope Centre,"

This is already a service funded by the community. The Salvation Army is mandated by the Community and the communities donations to the program to provide the service. It would not be easy for another group to take on. The 7-10 Club, offering a FREE breakfast and bag lucnh, struggles every year to raise enough to keep its program going and runs on less than a quarter of the funding the S/A receives. It would most certainly take a lot of capitol to replace, that statement is simply ludicrous.

As for the Capital expense of the New Hope, it cost the Sally nothing as over 3.5 million in federal and provincial monies went towards the new building as well as renovating the kitchen and office spaces in the old. Now the costs are Hydro etc and my guess is that because the Sally is a religious organization, they say they are a non-profit when it suits them to do so, they don't even pay taxes. Since opening, the New Hope have cancelled the drop in, devoted most of the transitional units to parolees at the expense of Nanaimo's Homeless and now they talk about shutting down the meal program or even the facility as a whole.

"We've been told by the Salvation Army's district headquarters that unless we can balance our budget, we may have no choice in where the cuts will be made." Was this same statement made to Rachel? Pretty heavy statement and one you would think he would mention.

It really pisses me off when I see the misinformation being put out by the S/A. The 7-10 Club struggles to operate a free meal program and serves just as many people as the S/A for less than a quarter of their budget. For them to state that it would be easy for another group to take this on just aggravates me to the nth degree.

I personally believe that they ultimately want to shut the meal program down and bring in programs where they actually make money. A full audit of all their programs costs etc. will be the only way to find out the real costs.

A letter to press from another fine activist Wallace Malay:

Dear Editor, Not only is Rob Anderson giving false and misleading info in your article, but you as well. They are not free meals at the Sally Ann. So I know that you are all leading busy lives, and well news just is not what it use to be (unbiased). Get your facts right. The Gospel according to Rob Anderson ( Salvation Army) is at best untrue in many aspects. That this breaking news comes after many in the community are gathering to work on food security and in supporting that the 7-10 location to be opened on Saturday and Sunday's to provide for those who cannot afford to pay for their meals. Also the amount of people that the S.A. says it serves is false.They receive money for their Emergency Shelter, money for clients in the Transitional Housing. Kettle Campaign money, money from not one Thrift Store, but from three as they just opened another. Individual and corporate sponsor of meals. Food donations from many businesses and individuals,etc.Now if the media in our fair city would like to organize an open public forum to address the need to feed our hungry. That Mr. Anderson be present as well as John Horn, then let us just see what is truth and what is fiction. I doubt you will print this, no matter. The word is out and will gather in momentum.

Wallace Malay

Nanaimo, B.C.

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