Heart, Love & Soul calls upon community for support amidst increased demand for services

Heart, Love & Soul, a cornerstone organization in downtown Niagara Falls, is facing increased challenges as it works to meet escalating community needs. 

Heart, Love & Soul provides invaluable services including a food pantry, dining room, and an abundance of social care programs. Recent statistics, however, reveal a troubling reality: Demand for assistance has surged dramatically, but so has the cost to meet those demands.

Over the past year alone, Heart, Love & Soul has distributed a staggering 71,856 meals from its pantry and served 44,926 hot meals to the community in downtown Niagara Falls. Moreover, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2023, the organization witnessed a 62% increase in total meal distribution compared to the same period in 2021, with food pantry meals spiking by 87%.

“The numbers speak volumes about the growing food insecurity in this community,” Executive Director Mark Baetzhold said. “In addition to huge increases between 2021 and 2023, we’ve seen a 17% uptick in the first quarter of 2024 compared to quarter one of 2023, indicating that more families are struggling to put food on the table. It also shows they are relying on our organization to feed their families.”

Compounding these challenges are financial constraints brought on by soaring food prices. USDA data indicates a 20.4% increase in food prices between 2018 and 2022, and further increases of another 2% are anticipated this year. With grants and funding stagnant, Heart, Love & Soul’s food spending in 2024 is expected to exceed its state and federal food funding by $140,000.

In light of these circumstances, the success of Heart, Love & Soul’s 2024 spring appeal is critical. Through the appeal, the organization aims to raise vital funds to sustain its operations and continue serving those in need. 

Financial donations can be made securely on the Heart, Love & Soul website at heartloveandsoul.org/donate, or by check to Heart, Love & Soul, 939 Ontario Ave., Niagara Falls, NY 14305. Additionally, an essential items drive is being held, with donations accepted at the organization’s food pantry located at 939 Ontario Ave., Niagara Falls; or at the Upward Niagara Chamber of Commerce at 895 Center St., Lewiston. A list of needed goods can be found at heartloveandsoul.org/donate-food-supplies

“We cannot do this alone,” Baetzhold emphasized. We are fortunate to have the support of so many people who care about the food, housing, and basic needs of community members living at the margins. It’s only through the collective generosity and support of our community that we can continue to provide vital assistance to those who need it most.”

Heart, Love & Soul encourages individuals and businesses to get involved by donating, volunteering, or spreading the word about their mission on social media. Please follow our journey at facebook.com/heartloveandsoul.

Heart, Love & Soul has recently shared 71,856 meals from its pantry and served 44,926 hot meals to the community in Niagara Falls. 

Link to our article in the Sentinel here.

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