Clara White forced to cut back on feeding homeless

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Clara White Mission has been feeding Jacksonville's homeless for a very long time. It started as a soup kitchen in 1904.

"Now the program is in jeopardy," said Ju'Coby Pittman.

Pittman is CEO/President and budget cuts at city hall is putting them in uncharted areas.

"We are in jeopardy of not being able to provide meals to the homeless and low income," she said.

Now they provide 400-500 meals a day, seven days a week, but the city council finance committee has cut this fiscal year's funding completely from the city budget.

"For the Clara White mission you're talking about 82 thousand dollars," said Pittman.

It is not just Clara White. Bruce Granger is with Feeding Northeast Florida. His organization is losing $25,000.

"We can leverage that 25-thousand," said Grander,"we can take a dollar and stretch it to feed seven people."

Jerome Crawford is with Lutheran Social services, his non profit is losing $79,000.

"Without this funding there's going to be a reduction in services and there will be a greater burden on the city," said Crawford.

When Mayor Alvin Brown presented his budget to the city council for review and approval it included a category entitled Supplemental Public Service Grants. The finance committee has decided to eliminate the entire category saving $669,000 and taking a toll on the non-profits expecting funding for their service.

Councilman Richard Clark Chairs the finance committee.

"We have a charge," said Clark, "everyone is to live within last year's budget, no increases."

Clark said they are doing what they said they would do. He said chances of the funds being restored are little to none.

The city council finance committee will meet again Thursday to finish its review of the Mayor's Budget and will devote Friday's meeting to the city's Capital Improvement Budget Plan. It will be their last meeting before there is a final vote on the budget.

The non profits are hoping to persuade council members that the funds they've cut they need to be restored to avoid a significant impact on the community that depends on their service.


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