Economy strains outreach
The economy is slowing, gas prices hit new record highs everyday and grocery bills are nearing the maximum of the family budget.
Times are tough and Faith Mission Outreach Director Matthew Mangino said he has never seen things as bad as they are now in the five years he has spent running the mission.
"People who were living month to month are now living week to week," he said. "Those who were living week to week are living day to day."
The mission gave out 2,750 pounds of food in just more than one hour Monday morning.
"We had people standing outside the mission waiting for food when we opened," Mangino said.
The mission helped more than 200 people in need of clothing and food on Monday alone, near record numbers for the Russellville facility.
"The numbers should tell you how hungry people are," Volunteer Rochelle Mangino said.
Mangino said the cost of fuel and everything else has been tough on everyone, including the mission.
"We are having to serve twice as many people with half the resources," he said.
Sixty percent of the mission's financial support comes from the Shoals area. About 40 percent comes from Franklin County, but 99 percent of the people served are from Russellville and Franklin County.
In addition to the influx of people in need, Mangino said getting food has become more difficult as the cost of fuel continues to rise.
"It cost us $55 just in fuel to go to Huntsville just to get the food we give away," Mangino said.
Since the food bank in Muscle Shoals closed, Mangino said they have no choice but to go to Huntsville to get food at wholesale prices.
In an effort to combat the high prices, the mission offers two meals Monday through Thursday. Breakfast is served at 9 a.m. and lunch is served at 11 a.m. Approximately 30 to 40 people are served at each meal.
"In the morning, we get people going to work, and a lunch time we get mothers with children," Mangino said.
He added that they can prepare the pre-cooked food in bulk cheaper than they can give away food to individuals.
Mangino said the mission will continue to do what they can to help the people of Russellville and Franklin County, and that they look for God to provide a way to meet the needs of the needy.
"There are months when I am not sure we are going to meet our bills to stay open, but somehow we do," he said. "God has always provided for us."