THE HOMELESS PROGRAM
An increasing number of families Casa de Peregrinos serves are homeless or in transitional housing. For them, a traditional food basket with staples such as rice and beans would be of little help, and without access to refrigeration, spoilage is a big issue. Moreover, homeless clients rarely have storage for one month’s worth of food. In response to this combination of unique needs, a program for homeless clients was developed to provide foods that need little preparation or cold storage.
Homeless clients are eligible for either weekly or bi-weekly food distributions depending upon their financial circumstances, and receive items such as packaged meat, peanut butter, crackers, energy bars, snacks, cans with easy-open tops, juices, and other drinks, as well as small quantities of baked goods and produce.
In 2018, Casa de Peregrinos made a total of 820 homeless distributions for an average of 126 per month. This is over 10% of the total client base for us. Another 40 clients living in transitional housing are also served each month by the program, primarily veterans and women transitioning from prison.
We are not the only source of food for homeless clients and families in Las Cruces: hot meals are provided by three other organizations. However, the products we provide to homeless clients fill a unique niche in the spectrum of food services for the homeless. Our services are distinctive in that they provide the foodstuffs for homeless clients that they can consume as needed, not just while they are on-site at meal service. Having food available throughout the day is a critical element of basic nutrition, which in turn, helps maintain the energy and mental acuity to continue the complicated process of obtaining permanent housing and exiting homelessness.