published Monday, June 27th, 2011

Kitchen calls for bottled water

Marnie Hogan wipes her face Friday after walking in the heat to her tent that is close to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. Hogan goes to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen to get bottled water.
Marnie Hogan wipes her face Friday after walking in the heat to her tent that is close to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. Hogan goes to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen to get bottled water.
Photo by Allison Carter.


Chattanooga Community Kitchen officials say the following items are needed to assist homeless people this summer:

• Bottled water

• Insect repellent

• Sunscreen

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Marnie Hogan is a 39-year homeless anemic who lives in a tent. With temperatures expected to soar into the 90s this week, bottled water is crucial to her health.

“It’s hot as hell out here,” Hogan said Friday as sweat beaded on her face. “We’re all going to need water.”

Hogan is one of more than 500 homeless people who visit the Chattanooga Community Kitchen daily. Many of them get bottled water from an ice chest to last through the night.

The community kitchen is calling for bottled water donations to head off dehydration for the homeless who live outside. Community Kitchen representatives are making a special plea to churches that have donated water in the past as part of Vacation Bible School projects.

Heat-related health problems have already started, officials said.

Hogan and others at the shelter said they have experienced dehydration this year.

She said lack of hydration causes her to hyperventilate. She said she got so sick this month while walking in the heat that she couldn’t breathe. Friends sat her in the shade and tried to give her water, but she kept throwing it back up.

The Community Kitchen has three coolers filled with water and cups for people to use while there, but homeless people need bottled water they can take with them, said Charlie Hughes, the kitchen’s executive director.

The kitchen can go through 1,000 bottles of water a day, said Jens Christensen, the Community Kitchen’s assistant director. It’s not unusual for someone to take two or three bottles with them.

Christensen said the kitchen has less than a week’s supply of bottled water.

After days of cool breezes and highs in the 80s last week, temperatures reached the 90s on Friday. Highs are expected to be in the 90s throughout the week, said Jerry Hevrdeys, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Faye Lynn, a 51-year-old homeless diabetic, got so hot this month while waiting on the bus that she passed out.

“I was dehydrated and seeing stars,” Lynn said.

She said doctors at Erlanger hospital told her to drink water to stay hydrated.

Dehydration problems are compounded with diabetics and people taking medication for mental illness, because the medicines don’t circulate in the body properly without hydration, said Hughes.

“We all think about homelessness when it’s real cold outside, but there’s more medical problems caused by the heat than by the cold,” he said.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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nucanuck said...

Refill your bottle with tap water...better for the environment...better for cost control...same hydration for the user.

June 27, 2011 at 12:53 a.m.
NorthChatter said...

My grandfather was the first treasurer for the Community Kitchen and he was also a depression era, WWII veteran, and thus very frugal (along with being honest to a fault, which made him perfect for the job). He would have been the first person to say...bring your bottle back!!!!

Bottled water is one of the most inefficient designs on Earth (cost wise, in plastic bottle form, it's 2 to 3x more expensive than about $8-10 a gallon)...and typically, what's inside is no better than what comes out of your tap anyway (the rest is just marketing and hype).

Let's say the Community Kitchen is getting their water wholesale (20 oz bottle of water is 49 cents wholesale) for a 1,000 bottles of water, that is $490. At 20 ounces per bottle, that would be 156 gallons of water. If you refilled those bottles with tap water, the cost would be about $5. Even if the water is donated (which I suspect it is), it is a terrible waste of resources.

Not to mention where all those plastic bottles are going? ...I am going out on a limb and saying that the homeless community probably aren't big in recycling plastic (because there is no money in it)...just more trash for the landfill (or blowing around downtown).

June 27, 2011 at 1:52 a.m.
LibDem said...

Refilling a bottle is imminently practical but how do you create an incentive to return the bottle? They know they'll get water.

(I've survived over seven decades on tap water but I know people who can't survive an hour without a bottle.)

June 27, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.

We, at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, fully understand concerns regarding waste, environmental impact and cost associated with bottled water. For those that may wonder, we do indeed recycle significant volumes of material - in fact, we recycled over 350 tons of material last year, including more than 18 tons of plastic.

We also strongly encourage reuse of the bottles - to that end, we are seeking to install a bottle refilling station as soon as we can afford the investment. Of course, sanitation becomes an issue with extended periods of reuse, so we must also consider that as a component of overall health. But, the most important aspect remains hydration.

Here's the base line: as the mercury rises, so do tempers and medical risks. In particular, beyond the obvious physical issues created by dehydration, some mental health and diabetes medications cannot properly function when a body becomes dehydrated.

Additionally, for the thousands of homeless and hungry area residents that seek services here at the Kitchen each year, portability is a key factor; to date we haven't found a better alternative to keeping folks hydrated than providing water in bottles…they can carry the bottles as they walk miles a day, to appointments, camps, shelters, even jobs. In the end, though, we certainly agree with nucanuck and northchatter - bring those bottles back and let’s refill them with tap water...and for those that aren't reusable for whatever reason, let’s put them straight into our recycling bins.

Finally, THANK YOU to all of those that continue to donate water and other resources as we work to end homelessness among our neighbors and in our community.

June 27, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.
RTZ said...

Why is it that everytime I read comments after a story on here, They are always written by people complaining instead of adding any intelligent insight to the matter? People are dehydrated and passing out from thirst...and you dummies are worried about sharing the statistics and price of water. Wow! you are such compassionate and caring people. Do you REALLY think those facts aren't all crunched and discussed at the kitchen? Did you know that refilling a water bottle numerous times creates a bacterial problem? Hmmm....maybe you can share your medical statistics on those situations if any arise. Except for the gentleman who said that he does....I've got a feeling none of you other rocket scientists drink our tap water. I've tried more than once. It's cruel and unusual punishment. Than again...the lack of water isn't our problem, so lets just throw the dog a bone. I do donate to the kitchen...I doubt I'll see any of you there.

June 27, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.
NorthChatter said...

RTZ, let me respond.

1) You are on here complaining about people complaining...which really doesn't make you any different than the rest on here (though to defend myself, if you click my info, you will see that most of my responses on here are overwhelmingly positive)

2) You can save your righteous indignation for someone else. Since the community kitchen was founded (in part by my church, St. Paul's Episcopal). Over the last 25 years, my entire family has given money, other items (like clothes and toiletries) and volunteered our time at the kitchen (I spent many a Thanksgiving growing up at the kitchen).

In the past, I and my father have volunteered at St. Matthew's Shelter (under Second Presbyterian) really want to understand the homeless problem? Spend a night with them. So if there is anyone that has the "right" to voice a concern, it's me.

3) I practice what I preach, I will typically use and refill a Dasani bottle for about a month before I recycle it. Haven't gotten a bacterial infection yet (granted, I understand that I live in more sanitary conditions)...but I have saved a lot of money on water.

All that being said, I really appreciate the Community Kitchen's reasoned response (as opposed to to RTZ's self-righteous rant). I will call today and to if I can't help donate for a re-filling station.

June 27, 2011 at 3:16 p.m.
RTZ said...

"Mr self righteous" RTZ stopped in and made a donation at the kitchen today. "Mr self righeous RTZ makes monthly donations to the animal shelter. As for Mr NorthChatter....I hope you realize that by answering my post with such are guilty of exactly what you accused me of. I love how you carried on about "your church". As for you Jack....I'm very impressed. I actually wish I could drink the tap water here. You are correct,I waste a ton of money on water. However...I was born and raised in a state full of nothing but spring water.Pretty tough to change that.(love your avatar). I honestly don't have any bad feelings about these posts....I find most of you quite amusing.(don't you hate self-righteous people?) Yeah.... I know Mr "My Church" guy,I can tell what a fine non-judgemental person you are too. I think that is one church I'll be sure to avoid! But seriously...If everyone reading this could drop off even a case of water,it would make some of our homeless people's lives a bit more bearable.

June 27, 2011 at 6:12 p.m.
brokentoe said...

RTZ I was about to post a similar thought. Not only are there bacterial concerns, but plastic bottles tend to leak after repeated usage.

Thank you, Community Kitchen, for your post. I'll gladly either drop some bottle water by or send a check or both.

People are misinformed about who the homeless really are. I watched a segment of 60 Minutes last night that showed how quickly the once middle-classed are falling into homelessness. Entire families sleeping in their cars. It could happen to any of us.

From the wealthiest on down to the poorest, we all stand on the shoulders of others. When one shoulder givers out, it brings the rest of us down. So goes the middle-classed, the lower middle-classed. The poor, accustomed to being poor, will survive, but barely.

Lib4, certain medications and illnesses, even certain forms of cancer, can cause an individual to gain weight. Don't judge, "lest ye be judged."

June 27, 2011 at 6:25 p.m.
RTZ said...

Hey brokentoe! Didn't you and I "argue" one time about something?

June 27, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
sangaree said...

@2) You can save your righteous indignation for someone else. Since the community kitchen was founded (in part by my church, St. Paul's Episcopal). Over the last 25 years, my entire family has given money, other items (like clothes and toiletries) and volunteered our time at the kitchen (I spent many a Thanksgiving growing up at the kitchen).

The above is what Ghandi meant when he said: "I like your Christ! It's your "christians" I question."

Just because someone performs a charitable or kind act doesn't make them "Christ" like. Nor does it necessarily make them a "Christian." Prime proof, there are just as man devils in the church as there are out.

June 28, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
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