After suffering through years of an economic downturn driven by a mortgage crisis, rising consumer debts, and mounting health care costs, of late many average Americans are increasingly hungry for the country to rebound financially. Unfortunately, at the same time, a confluence of events is prompting a resurgence of literal hunger in the U.S. as well as many other corners of the world-at-large.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, for the third straight year, Hunger Action Month has had to contend with a 1 in 6 hunger rate, the highest percentage since the federal agency began monitoring national hunger in 1995.
But in the process, food banks are facing unprecedented need for food that they cannot fill. According to The Huffington Post, even as 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table, food pantries from California to the Carolinas are grappling with the public’s high demand for foodstuffs—and diversity in clients—the more and more they cannot pay for.
"We are seeing many more seniors, but we're also seeing many more families with children,” Doreen Wohl, executive director of the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, told the Huffington Post. “People are coming as a last resort. They've exhausted all other resources.”
‘Enid Borden, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels, has seen a similar swell in clients. ‘In this economic downturn, we have found that those very same seniors who were once our volunteers, are now in need of our services,’ Borden told the Huffington Post. ‘This is the richest nation on the face of the earth, but the people who raised us and fed us and tilled the soil are going hungry.’"
As the Daily News reported, the steadily rising cost of food and gasoline prices have placed an enormous strain on many of these programs. “This challenge has been exacerbated by recent federal cuts that will slash funding for food banks, soup kitchens and food pantries—nationwide— by 40 percent.”
With record-high numbers of Americans plagued by unemployment and underemployment, living in poverty and wondering how they’ll put food on plates in the coming cooler winter months, a broader concern is the “nutritional impact” on the U.S. public. While a lack of wealth got us here, extended hunger can cause a lack of health that can have a broader impact on beleaguered family budgets. In 2011, the price of grains such as corn, wheat and soybeans has roughly doubled since the year before, due mainly to bad harvests and also the use of corn for ethanol. Wholesale food prices rose by 3.9 percent earlier this year— the sharpest increase in more than 36 years. Meat and dairy prices also rose, as did fresh vegetable prices, leaping by nearly 50 percent in the first quarter of 2011. And food prices have continued to rise during the course of the year.
If cutting back on eating out and consuming off-brand grocery items isn’t enough to shore up your family’s food expenses, it may be time to consider other options for freeing up funds for basic needs, including bankruptcy. While food banks are great for filling pantry coffers, bankruptcy can be just what you need to refill savings in your bank account.
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