From Maine to California, many charities that feed the nation's poor are struggling. Donations are down as the economy works to revive and Americans limit their charitable contributions to the victims of the September 11th attacks. After those attacks, nearly 80 percent of the nation's food banks reported an increase in demand, as thousands of jobs were lost.
According to some, the shortages plaguing the nation's food pantries are symptomatic of a larger problem that's often hidden from public view.
Abundant harvest every year leads much of the world to believe the U.S. is free of problems such as hunger.
Robert Forney, president & CEO, America's Second Harvest: "This week, 7 (M) million people will turn to a local charity for food."
But this week, America's Second Harvest, a national network of food banks and food rescue organizations … released a study showing an increase in the number of people seeking food aid in this country. The study showed no one was exempt, including the working poor, rural and suburban families and children.
All totaled this year, more than 23 (M) million Americans sought and received emergency hunger relief from the charity organization. That's an increase of nine percent -- or nearly two million people -- since 1997.
Forney, "We must use the results of this study to help form the debate over our nation's food assistance policies. about what we must do to strengthen food stamps, increase benefits, outreach and reduce the barriers to this critical program."
The chair of the Senate Agriculture committee agrees … and appeared at the same news conference to tout his own proposals.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D) Iowa, Senate Ag Comm. chair (paraphrased) "My aim in the farm bill is to simplify rules, increase benefits to adjust for family size, make food stamps work for families transitioning from welfare to work and insure the program provides proper nutrition for children."p> Following his remarks, the Senate Agriculture committee met and among other things, voted to increase food stamp spending by $6.2 (B) billion dollars over ten years.