By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator
Casa San Francisco, a 10-bed shelter for homeless people in Milton, provides services for the community as well as those who need a place to stay for 30 days.
And in today’s economy, the need is great, according to Melinda Woolf, program manager.
Catholic Charities operates the shelter and programs out of the renovated house on Mulberry Street. While there are plans to build a new facility, the staff is proud of the work that happens inside and out of cramped quarters.
Melinda says the five men and five women who reside there are expected to be seeking work during the day, but are offered a nutrition program in the evening.
Casa San Francisco, though, is much more than a shelter in that it serves as a site for multiple food distribution programs, including emergency food distribution reaching hungry seniors and families.
It’s a common misconception that the Food Bank provides emergency food directly to clients, but the Food Bank of Delaware actually connects to the community through hunger-relief partners, such as Casa San Francisco.
Partners, like Casa, send authorized representatives to pick up food from the Food Bank’s warehouse for distribution in order to meet client needs.
Since a federal cut in SNAP benefits went into effect in November, Melinda reports a sharp increase in the amount of requests for emergency food.
Prior to November, the staff distributed emergency food bags to an average of 40 households each month; that number has risen to 75 households getting a bag containing about 25 pounds in staples.
Casa San Francisco also distributes food through the HOPE program; HOPE is an acronym for Helping Other People Endure.
Melinda said HOPE serves eight locations, mostly seniors, around Sussex County, not only providing bags of staples but also nutritional and budgeting information presented in workshops.
“We are definitely volunteer driven,” she said.