Sadly, a growing number of people in the Czech Republic live below the poverty threshold. About 100,000 people have direct experience with poverty, living as they do in temporary shelters or on the street. Another 100,000 people barely make it from paycheck to paycheck – one unplanned-for expenditure and they wind up in debt, a trap from which there is no easy escape. It is not pleasant to face the awful truth, but countless people in our country have difficulties making that most essential purchase of all – their next meal.
„The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs approached Caritas and asked us to get involved in a long-term project which would ensure that the poorest of the poor in our country receive basic food aid and hygiene products,“ says Stanislav Fiala, Director of the St. Theresa Shelter Home and coordinator of the food assistance program within the Prague archdiocese.
Food and other material aid seeks to alleviate the worst forms of deprivation. It is designed to reach the poorest and consists of free care packages with non-perishable foodstuffs for the recipient and his or her family. These care packages contain, e.g., canned food, rice, pasta, legumes, powdered milk, oil, and also hygiene products, such as soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, diapers, wet wipes, and razors. The actual contents differ depending on whether the package is designated for a family with children or for homeless individuals.
Aside from this material aid, Caritas offers social counseling and various other forms of social services to the socially deprived and disadvantaged.