Taipei, June 2 (CNA) A single mom of five children in New Taipei broke into tears recently when she received a "food parcel" from the Chinese Christian Relief Association (CCRA) to feed her poverty-stricken family.
The family had run out of money for food the day before the parcel was delivered and called the charity's gift a "life-saving parcel," volunteer Chiu Ta-hsin remembered the mother saying.
The distribution of food to economically distressed families is the result of a food bank program launched by the relief association in December 2010, when 616 food parcels were handed out to families whose homes were destroyed during flooding following Typhoon Morakot in August 2009.
Each parcel contained staples, such as rice, noodles, and milk powder, and daily necessities.
The association decided this year to expand the program to economically distressed families outside areas affected by flooding during the 2009 typhoon.
Under its 2012 food bank project, food parcels, each containing food and daily necessities valued at NT$1,500 to NT$1,800, will be handed out every two months to some 3,350 near-poor households around Taiwan.
CCRA explained that the households entitled to the assistance are mostly those "close to being entitled to the government's social relief subsidies."
Each of the households helped by the association has an average monthly income of NT$13,777 but expenses of NT$20,403, a deficit of NT$6,626, the group said.
To survive, the households have had to use bank deposits or borrow money from their relatives or friends to make up the shortfall.
Of the households' expenses, 43.73 percent go for food, and the percentage was pushed to over 50 percent when water and electricity fees are added, the association said, an indication of how important food aid can be to those families.
According to the charity organization, it has set up 221 "food banks" around Taiwan as of February 2012, and it is asking for donations to help fund the food bank program.
(By Lin Szu-yu and Elizabeth Hsu)