A soup kitchen in Perth is saying it simply cannot afford to continue feeding tourists and backpackers who have fallen on hard luck while traveling down under.
The Irish Echo in Australia reports that Bev Lowe, the owner of the Manna Inc soup kitchen in Perth, says that tourists and backpackers are costing her business around $30,000 annually.
Lowe told the Irish Echo that up to 10 Irish backpackers frequent her soup kitchen each night. Each meal costs $10 to make, leaving Manna Inc down over $30,000 a year for providing tourists and backpackers with the three-course meals.
“We’re on the streets to feed the homeless – that’s why we’re there, we’re not there to feed people who are on holiday,” Lowe said.
“It really doesn’t matter if they need the food – the fact is that backpackers are supposed to prove before they come into the country that they have sufficient money to support themselves.”
“It’s nothing against the Irish, we just can’t afford to feed them, and I’m sorry if they’re finding it tough, but they really should have planned better. I certainly am not a person to deny a meal to anybody, but I have to feed those who are homeless and desperate first,” Lowe said.
Lowe went on to stress that it is not only Irish tourists who use the soup kitchen, but said that they are the majority, as well as the easiest to pick out because of their “strong accent.”
“I have nothing against the Irish. My grandfather was an Irishman. I have Irish blood running through my veins. My grandfather was John Michael O’Leary – how much more Irish can you get?” she said.
“It is an embarrassment for the Irish and it’s an embarrassment for me, and it’s really hard on my team leaders because they don’t like to say no.”
Lowe went on to explain that her soup kitchen does not receive any government funding and that it runs solely on donations, making it even harder to provide for backpackers.
“I have to raise this money – it doesn’t just fall out of the sky because somebody’s gracious and kind,” she said.
“We were farmers, we sold our farm to make this happen, and now we’re totally dependent on people’s generosity to feed the homeless.”
The Irish Echo reported that two Irishmen, who were not named, were at the soup kitchen that day and said they cannot afford the price of food in Perth and rely on Lowe’s soup kitchen to stay fed.