Sep 23, 2010 5:37 PM by David Ortiviz

Poverty, demand for services climb higher

A charity group in Pueblo says more people are struggling to put food on the table. This may not come as a surprise. Last week, the U.S. Census says the number of Americans living in poverty has jumped to its highest level in more than half a century.

Marlene Saiz is one of those Americans. She relies on the Pueblo Cooperative Care Center to fill her pantry. On Thursday when she went to get food from the center, she teared up as she talked with the two volunteers. "I didn't use to have to come here before, but I lost my job," Saiz told the women.

Saiz, a mother and grandmother, has been unemployed for four months. She says suddenly she was unable to make car payments, let alone buy groceries. "Sorry that I'm crying," she told the volunteers. "I never thought I would be in poverty like I am now."

"It's an embarrassing situation to be in. I've worked for 40 years, I've never done without," said Saiz.

Saiz is one of 43.6 million Americans living in poverty--that's one out of seven, according to a recent U.S. Census report. For a family of four that means an income of less than $22,128 a year, or for a single individual the poverty level is less than $11,161 a year.

As poverty increases, the Pueblo Cooperative Care Center stays busy filling food sacks. Executive Director Marcie Reynolds says demand has risen 9% this year.
"We're serving a lot of people who recently lost their jobs and who are not used to reaching out to the community for services," said Reynolds.

Roughly 8% of Colorado's population is unemployed--a figure that has more than doubled in the past three years.

"I am looking for a job, but it's hard, it's hard in this economy," said Saiz. Before she left the center, she turned to the volunteers and told them hopefully she would have a job next month, and wouldn't be back.

Web links to charity groups in Southern Colorado:

Pueblo Cooperative Care Center

Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado

Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs

Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo

If you know of other agencies that help low income individuals or families, feel free to leave a comment about the organization and include contact information.

Follow me on Facebook at David Ortiviz and on Twitter at @ortiviz


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