A sign of the times – a Madison charity expands its free meal to seven days a week. The meal had been held three days a week since 1982 until last fall when it expanded to five days a week. Andy Russell with Madison’s Catholic Multicultural Center said the expanded meal offerings to seven days a week are in response to a survey of the Center’s clients. “We found that 75 percent of our clients that were coming here were skipping meals over the weekend, because of lack of money and resources to purchase food,” said Rusell.
Russell said while many of those receiving the meals are homeless, others are struggling with affordable housing, and having access to free food enables people to stretch their budgets which helps prevent homelessness. “We’ve seen over the last two years more people who either had to have their hours cut back or lost their job altogether, had to take a job with less pay. Quite a few people who come here have more than one job to try to make ends meet. Many of the people we’re serving do live in homes, mostly in apartments, and between 60 and eight percent of their income goes to housing costs.
Russell said the center, on Madison’s South Side, serves meals to between eighty and one hundred people Monday through Friday, and he expects similar numbers will be served on weekends. He said there’s been plenty of support from local Catholic parishes and beyond.