As the economic crisis deepens, its human toll is becoming more evident. A new survey of food charities in the United States has revealed a dramatic increase in hunger. Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the US, says that a growing number of families face difficulties in securing adequate nutrition. Meanwhile food banks have proven ill-equipped to meet the increased demand caused by layoffs and increased food costs, and many have collapsed or have restricted the allotments of food they make.
In a nationwide survey of 160 local food assistance programs, with operations covering virtually every county in the US, Feeding America found that there has been a 30 percent increase in requests for emergency food assistance, and that every food bank has seen an increase in demand for food relief. An opinion poll commissioned by the organization and released simultaneously found that a growing number of low-income families lack sufficient nutrition.
In a chilling statement on social conditions in the US, 72 percent of surveyed food charities said that they are unable to meet the current demands of local communities for assistance. In most cases, the charities have responded by offering smaller distributions to the hungry, and some have been forced to close down.
In its survey of households, Feeding America found that nearly two thirds of low-income households—defined as having an income at less than 200 percent of the official poverty level—said that within the past year “their food didn’t last and they could not afford to buy more.” Forty percent “ate less than they felt they should,” and 36 percent “cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there wasn’t enough money for food.” A large majority of low-income respondents, 70 percent, said that they are reducing food spending, while 62 percent said they make multiple shopping trips for food “because they didn’t have enough money to buy everything at one time.” In New York City, in 2008, nearly 40 percent of all households said that they had faced difficulties in procuring sufficient food for their families, a sharp increase over figures from 2007.
Sad stats indeed. But the worse is yet to come……