by Susan Young
What does it take to run a food bank? How much money do you get each month from donations? How much do you make from Segundo sales? How many people do you actually feed? How far does a bag of beans go? What else do you need? How can I help?
These are some of the questions we get all the time from our supporters and naysayers. That is why my article this week is dedicated to answering these questions. I would much prefer writing about the people we help or the self-less volunteers who do all the work but sometimes it is necessary to get down to brass tacks and talk about the dollars and cents, or in this case pesos and centavos.
The monthly overhead for Volunteers Without Limits consist of four items: rent ($3450 Mx/$300 US), electricity ($110 Mx/$10 US), water ($80 Mx/$7 US) and telephone ($109 Mx/$9 US). These vary a little as the rent is based on dollars so it can fluctuate with the value of the peso. Our expenses for food distribution depend on how many families we feed. This last month we distributed ‘dispensa’ to nearly 100 families. The size of each family varies between two (most of our old folks) and ten or more. So if we take an average family size to be 5, that would be about 500 people.
Each 50lb sack of beans is re-bagged into about 35 bags (roughly 1 1/2 lb). The same is done with the rice and flour. A sack of beans costs 527 pesos ($52 US), rice 355 ($31 US), flour 315 ($27). That comes to 1197 pesos ($105 US)/35 bags = 34.2 peso per sack/dispensa, or $3 US dollars per family twice a month. We give out one a sack containing one bag of each to each family unit. For families with more than 5 we give two sacks. For one dispensa (a sack containing a bag each of beans, rice and flour) the cost is approximately: $3 US dollars. We need at least six (6) sacks of each for one month for a total cost of roughly 2400 pesos ($210 US). Water cost is about 400 pesos ( $35) a month and fuel ran us 878 peso (~$75) this last month. We try always to supply emergency requests for food but occasionally have to turn away new people when we run low on supplies.
Additionally our cost includes fuel for the truck to delivery to the elderly and handicapped, water for the water tank for delivery to the elderly, and general maintenance and repairs for the vehicle we use and the refrigerator in the store. This month we had to replace a part on the refrigerator and it cost us $450 Mx/$ 39 US.
This last month our total cash donations totaled $ 4616 Mx/$ 412 US. Our sales in the segunda totaled $2100 Mx/ $184.
So the bottom line was:
Total Expenses: $10,140 Mx/$889 US
Total Income: $ 4,616 Mx/$405 US
Net balance: (($5524) Mx/($484) US)
The deficit this month was covered from a reserve Patty had set aside during the winter months when donations and sales were better. This reserve has been depleted and does not contain enough to sustain another month like July.
In June, a special request was made for a new wheelchair for Lupita, one of our disabled children, which was found along with a bathing seat and car seat and purchased by a designated donation at a cost of $240.
Currently, we have two major pending needs.
Repair to and/or replacement of the AC unit in the therapy room. Our current unit was a donation from one of our benefactors but the freon gas is low and may be leaking and it does not cool the room adequately. We would like to get it charged and the leak fixed and add another unit (mini-split) to that room. This would allow us to continue the children’s physical therapy during the hot summer months.
Second, we also need to get the diesel truck which was donated to VSL running. To do this we need to purchase a new battery to replace one that is no longer working and then have a diesel mechanic evaluate what needs to be done to make the truck road worthy. Many parts were stolen or replaced with bad parts during the time the truck was parked at our old location and the truck quit running a couple of months back. Since that time we have been using a private vehicle owned by own of the volunteers and we are only paying for their fuel. However, since their vehicle is only a half ton truck we have had to limit the amount of water we put in the tank and therefore have had to limit the number of bottles to three when we distribute to the elderly and handicapped.
When we received donations of can goods and perishables they are added to the regular staples. However, some items that are too far out of date can not be dispensed for they could create a health hazard. We have had donations of food items dating as far back as 2004. Although it is probably safe to consume some canned goods that are past the “shelf date” many items need to be tossed and not distributed.
Just to wrap it up, here’s the bottom line again…
it cost just under $1000 (US dollars) a month to run Volunteers Without Limits.
Last month we made less than $200 from segundo sales and a tad over $400 (US) in donations and came up almost $500 (US) short.
If we are going to keep feeding these poverty stricken families and elderly we need your help.
Now that we have a PayPal account, giving is easy.
You can make a one time gift or sign up for a regular monthly donation and pay by credit card or ATM.
If you feel the pull in your heart to help feed the hungry of San Felipe and provide basic nutritional and sanitary supplies for the children with disabilities, please, don’t put it off til you return in the Fall. Click on one of the Paypal options to the right. You can donate with your credit card, ATM or your own Paypal account. As easy as 1, 2, 3!
The need is critical but if everyone reading this article commits to give at just a little each month, we can continue to make it work.
Many Thanks and God Bless!