Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Open Heart Kitchen, which serves hot meals to people in need, will host an emergency fundraiser Nov. 20 in the hopes that it will raise enough money to keep it from shuttering its doors.
The nonprofit, which serves low-income families, seniors and other vulnerable populations in the Tri-Valley has already begun tapping into its reserve food supply, a victim of the worsening economy. The soup kitchen's situation is what Executive Director Linda McKeever describes as the perfect storm--less people donating and more people needing hot meals.
More people than ever are turning out at Open Hearts meal programs, which have been offered in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore since 1995. Demand for meals has increased nearly 25 percent. The nonprofit also provides a children's weekend box lunch program and dinner service to seniors, such as the Monday program at Ridgeview Commons.
Last year, the kitchen served 160,000 meals, but this year's number is expected to be much larger. That was accomplished by a small staff of two full-time and five part-time workers and hundreds of volunteers. In addition, contributions from the public have decreased by 45 percent. Food costs have risen by 10 percent.
Because the food being provided is Open Heart's reserves, that supply is only anticipated to last another four or five weeks at the most if the community doesn't step in to help.
Last February, Open Heart Kitchen was one of eight designated beneficiaries of the Pleasanton Weekly's 2007 Holiday Fund and received a check for $18,750 to help meet its costs in 2008. The nonprofit will again be a targeted recipient of the Weekly's 2008 Holiday Fund, which will launch Nov. 21.
The Nov. 20 fundraiser will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at Blacksmith Square in Livermore, South Livermore and Railroad avenues, rain or shine. There will be live music by acoustic folk rock singer Roger Kardinal, also known as the "voice of Livermore." There will also be wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres, according to Wendy Weathers, a volunteer who is organizing the fundraiser.
"A representative from Open Heart will be there to take donations and speak to the crowd a little bit about what's going on with Open Heart Kitchen," she said. "There's no cost for the event and we just want to encourage people to come and donate their money. It's serious."
Cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted forms of donations. Weathers said Open Heart is also looking for local businesses to donate food trays for the fundraiser. For information, call Weathers at 963-8019.