TYLER (KYTX) - Salvation Army workers in Tyler are having to turn people away at lunch for the first time this week.
They say a lack of funding has forced them to cut back on meals and other services like rental and utility assistance. It's not something they wanted, but they say they really had no choice.
"Our place clears out from 11 until about 1 o'clock because they go to the Salvation Army for lunch. And, today they couldn't go."
Pat Mallory is executive director of Gateway to Hope, a day shelter for the homeless.
"I was really worried because I knew that's going to be a big problem for them."
She says news of the Salvation Army starting to cut lunches and lodge hours Monday did not come easy for the people she helps on a daily basis.
"It kind of offended me some." says Brett Cargile.
Kelly McMahan says he's grateful Mallory provided them a free lunch to fill the void Monday.
"Walking down the sidewalk, hopeless and not anything in sight, except may be a cold harsh look from a citizen, then to be, you know, right here..."
Chantel Millin with the Salvation Army says donations that would normally stay local were sent to places like West and Oklahoma for disaster relief.
"It's hard to do the most good when you don't have the funds to do that."
She says cuts at the federal and local levels have also affected them.
"If we can get back to the place where we can say 'yes' again, we can open our doors during lunch again and welcome them back in, we'd be happy to do that."
Cindy Oliver is hoping that happens before triple digit temperatures set in this summer.
"Half of us don't have vehicles. So, we're having to walk and it's hot."
Daniel Williams is also hoping for more funding soon, but says he understands why the Salvation Army had to make changes.
"Being on the streets, I wouldn't make it very long without them. So, even though they're cutting the lunch out and having the hours that they're having, I'm fine with that because I know that God's taking care of me."
The Salvation Army used to serve about 5,600 lunches every month.
Millin says the Salvation Army will send your money to wherever you specify, but it's important to keep in mind, there's a need for help locally too.
87 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs and services offered to people in need.