On Food

Slacktivist talks about politics in Delaware, concluding:

the state’s governor-elect ? ma[de] a shrewd, surprising and encouraging announcement of his own regarding his upcoming inaugural celebration: “Markell: Give time for your neighbors.”

Gov.-elect Jack Markell proposed an alternative to the traditional inaugural ball. No expensive gown or tux rentals necessary. But get ready to roll up those sleeves — and the sooner, the better.

Standing in the volunteers’ room at the Food Bank of Delaware, Markell and Lt. Gov.-elect Matt Denn launched a fresh effort to help Delaware residents give their time and talents in service to their neighbors — a volunteer drive that ends with a “Weekend of Service” Jan. 24-25, just a few days after Markell’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

They are hoping the plan will produce thousands of hours of volunteer service at a time when nonprofits are reeling from sharp decreases in donations and other resources. The Food Bank, for example, announced last week it no longer had the money to support its Emergency Feeding Program and would focus instead on collecting and distributing food through its member agencies.

A fine suggestion. Not only is this good publicity and a shot in the arm for the state’s ailing and overtaxed food bank, but it spares us the awkward ritual of a gubernatorial prom.

The odds are that you don’t live in Delaware. Most people don’t (me included — my commute takes me through the Pa./Del. security checkpoint every night). But the odds are also pretty good that if you live in one of the other 49 state, your food bank/food pantry system is similarly strained and overburdened. Here’s a handy Food Bank Locator from Feeding America if you want to look yours up.

Indeed, there’s no time like the present. Hilzoy points out that “charities of all kinds, including food banks, typically get hammered during recessions, since people have less money to give. And, of course, during recessions, they are needed more than ever.” She cites a Washington Post report that:

Fueled by rising unemployment and food prices, the number of Americans on food stamps is poised to exceed 30 million for the first time this month, surpassing the historic high set in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

I misremembered the timeline for Oxfam’s Fast for a World Harvest, but I’ll be fasting tomorrow to remind myself of what too many of my fellow citizens face daily. The Oxfam pages link to a range of things you can do yourself, and that you can have your school, college, business, and community do to fight hunger. Now is the time to get involved.

i-dfddc436b4b632597df051a522165b12-hungerinus.jpgAccording to the USDA, 11.1% of US families were food insecure, meaning that:

At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security.

Of those 13 million households (36.2 million people, including 12.4 million children), 4.1% of households had “very low food security”:

In these food-insecure households, normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.

That corresponds to 8.2 million adults and 3.7 million children who lived in households where someone passed up on eating in order for someone else to be able to eat, in order to pay the rent, to buy medicine, or to cover other essential expenses. With a recession looming, layouts on the horizon, and mortgage payments spiking, expect those numbers to rise.

In addition to food banks and other outreach, be sure to check in with your neighbors. This sort of hunger can affect anyone (though it tends to hit single mothers and those below the poverty line most often). You’ll have extra turkey on Friday, and you may have a neighbor who would appreciate the chance to come over for a bit of turkey now and then until things settle down.

I’ll be out of town until next week, so happy Thanksgiving to all. Be good to one another.

Comments

  1. #1 bonefish
    November 26, 2008

    Thanks for reminding us. It’s time for all of us to do what we can to change things. Volunteering, helping a Food Bank, homeless shelter or other nonprofit, a crisis intervention service, is a step towards changing the face of America. We need that change.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  2. #2 Paul Murray
    November 27, 2008

    I don’t see that that map tells us much. After all, whever the “average food insecurity” might be, some states are going to be above it, and some below.

    We see that sunny southern places have more food and cold northern places have less, except for CA (high poplualtion & urbanised), NV (desert), FL (alligators and retired people who don’t work on the farm), and WA (cattle and probably fish).

    Absolute food insecurity would be more meaningfull. That there should be *any* food insecurity *at all* is alarming. Wee all know you can’t give your own citizens medical care, but now a proportion of them are going to starve to death ?!?!