Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hunger Growing Across U.S.

On Monday, the Agriculture Department reported that 17 million American households, or 49 million individuals, “had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times [this] year.”

That was an increase from 13 million households, or 11 percent, in 2008.

This is a disturbing development, and amounts to the highest total since the government began surveying in 1995. It points to the distress that millions of American families are facing as a result of the recession.

In its simplest terms, what this means is that one in seven households is now struggling to put enough food on the table.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called hunger “a problem that the American sense of fairness should not tolerate and American ingenuity can overcome.”

However, Vicki Escarra, president of the nonprofit organization Feeding America, says the Agriculture Department is probably understating the problem.

Food banks in her network reported an average increase in need of nearly 30 percent this year over 2008.

It would hardly be a surprise if the government is fudging the numbers; it recently admitted it had overestimated employment figures by 824,000 jobs between March of 2008 and March of 2009.

Food — the most basic staple of life, and of dignity — is simply unaffordable for millions of Americans.

The government reports that one in eight Americans now collects food stamps.

This is a stunning figure. And that number will continue to grow; nearly 16 million Americans are now said to be unemployed, and more than 100,000 additional people join their ranks each week.

When workers who can only find part time jobs are added to the mix, we find that 26.5 million Americans are either unemployed or under-employed.

Sadly, their is no letup in sight.

We are living in hard times and this latest Agriculture Report only serves to remind us that, for millions of Americans, the basic act of buying food has become all too challenging.

For these families, the recession is anything but over.

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