Monday, April 16, 2012
Food Banks Fear They Will Fall Short in Efforts to Feed the Nation's Hungry
April 4, 2012
Higher food costs and rising gas prices could prove to be damaging to the nation's food banks and their ability to provide adequate emergency food to the nearly 49 million Americans who are currently living at risk of hunger, Feeding America, the network of the nation's largest food banks, announced.
Although recent reports indicate that the economy is beginning to improve and that the unemployment rate is also beginning to shrink, Feeding America's food banks continue to face significant struggles as America recovers from the worst economic recession in decades.
The Feeding America network of more than 200 food banks and 61,000 local partners are feeding 37 million Americans a year, including nearly 14 million children and 3 million seniors. But with rising operating costs and decreasing supply, a number of factors are contributing to a "perfect storm" of challenges that threaten to leave food banks unable to meet the need in their communities.
Gas prices increased 26 percent in 2011, adding tremendous costs to transporting food. Increased fuel costs particularly affect rural areas, where populations are less dense. Many food banks support emergency feeding across a vast service area.
Food inflation is also hitting food banks hard. Grocery prices increased an average rate of 6 percent in the last half of 2011, and food banks have been hard pressed to make up the difference.
Feeding America Food banks have seen significant increases in the price of household staples like milk, which increased in price by nine percent in 2011, and peanut butter, which costs 38 percent more now than it did a year ago. Rising food prices also mean that healthy, nutritious food becomes further out of reach for many of the clients served by Feeding America, further increasing their reliance on food banks