This Thanksgiving, the DeKalb-based Hosea Feed The Hungry and Homeless (HFTH) organization expects to feed approximately 10 -15,000 people during its annual event at Turner Field in Atlanta. Another 6,000 meals will be taken to elderly and needy people. But the group is 40 percent under its goal for donations.
“We need people to give sacrificially,” said Elisabeth Omilami, chief operating officer and daughter of civil rights leader and founder of the group, Hosea Williams.
To help eliminate the shortfall, HFTH is sending out requests for additional support to its current donors. Donations from individuals account for 60 percent of the organization’s $1.7 million budget, Omilami said.
In addition to making personal donations, individuals can help HFTH by going to their faith-based groups and organizing food drives and love offerings, Omilami said. “A thousand dollars from 30 churches would make a big difference.”
HFTH is also seeking to form new partnerships with companies that can provide resources to help the charity, Omilami said. One such company is Glory Foods, which has pledged to donate 15,000 canned goods, she said.
For the dinner, HFTH will use 1,000 turkeys and 900 cans each of green beans, corn and yams, Omilami said.
“We need meats desperately,” she said. “We need a tremendous amount of food.”
And the food is not just need for the holidays. More and more “newly poor are draining the resources of HFTH,” Omilami said. There are some working middle class people who “want to get food after hours because they are ashamed to sit in the lobby,” Omilami said.
Approximately “300,000 will be added to the list of food scarcity in Georgia this year,” Omilami added.
This year, HFTH is expanding its medical clinic to include chiropractic care, podiatry, dentistry and flu shots, Omilami said.
Already, the organization offers blood pressure, diabetes and HIV screening; wound treatment; eye exams; distribution of vitamins and over-the-counter medicines; and nutritional counseling, Omilami said.
There have been several instances where people coming in for one of the holiday events needed urgent care and were rushed to a hospital, she said.
In addition to its holiday dinners for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, HFTH provides poverty mitigation services throughout the year, Omilami said. The organization serves 1,000 people a year in DeKalb County, which is one of the 37 counties in which HTFH works. Every day HFTH provides food, rent, utility and mortgage assistance.
Requests for help have increased 128 percent, Omilami said. And 70 percent of those requests were for income-based housing.
“People have not been looked after and sought after,” Omilami said. “People just look the other way” when they see the impoverished.