Food and financial donations have decreased sharply this year, a local chapter of the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families said, attributing the drop to the ailing economy and a series of tainted food scandals this year.
Tseng Hsin-ying (曾欣盈), a supervisor at the fund’s Yunlin County office, said this is the first time their yearly social benevolence campaign did not collect enough donations to meet its needs, with financial contributions down by 50 percent.
“It is really a bad situation this year, worse than in 2008, when Taiwan and other countries suffered from the Asian financial crisis. We have seen a drop in donations. We have received almost no donations of items such as edible oil, instant noodles, beverages, detergents and shampoo,” Tseng said.
The Yunlin office has held an annual year-end donation drive since 1990 to provide assistance to poor families.
“It is the first time in 22 years that we are seriously short of contributions. Rice donations are down by 20 percent from last year, and other food provisions are scarce,” Tseng said.
A year-end banquet program is slated for Dec. 8 at Beigang High School for the region’s 870 needy families, but the office is running short of contributions to organize the event, Tseng said.
“We believe the situation is due to a series of tainted food scandals this year,” Tseng added.
“The public does not know what food is safe to eat or which household goods are safe. So they are refraining from donating this year,” Tseng said.
The number of households that has signed up to receive support has increased by 150 from last year.
The number of children in need has not risen much more than the number of households, since most parents only have one or two children these days, Tseng said.
However, Tseng said the yearly donation drive is based on household units, which have surged in recent years, and therefore the shortage in food and provision donations has become a bigger problem each year.
“Most of the households in need of financial assistance are single-parent families. The parent has to work to single-handedly feed their family. Most of them cook meals at home, then head to their workplace,” Tseng said.
“However, this means the children’s meals are already cold when they return home from school,” Tseng added.
Thus is why the fund is planning to give a fire pot with a reheating mechanism as a gift to each of the registered families in need of assistance this year, so that their children can eat warm meals during the winter, she said.
“However, we found that the public is also experiencing a cold winter. We hope people can rekindle the fire in their hearts by donating generously. That way our foundation can give the kids from poor families a dream for the future,” she said.