-- The Emergency Food Assistance Program supplies 54% of pantries, 34% of kitchens, and 31% of shelters; and
-- the Emergency Program on Indian Reservations supplies 2% of pantries, 1% of kitchens, and 2% of shelters.
FA's president and CEO, Vicki Escarra said:
"Clearly, the economic recession, resulting in dramatically increasing unemployment nationwide, has driven unprecedented, sharp increases in the need for emergency food assistance and enrollment in federal nutrition programs. Hunger in America 2010 exposes the absolutely tragic reality of just how many people in our nation don't have enough to eat. Millions of our clients are families with children finding themselves in need of food assistance for the very first time. It's morally reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic services."
In November 2009, the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (USDA) reported that 49 million Americans, including 17 million children, are food insecure; that is, they "had difficulty providing enough food for all their (family) members due to a lack of resources. The prevalence of food insecurity was....the highest observed since nationally representative food security surveys were initiated in 1995."
In September 2009, the US Census Bureau reported rising poverty, falling incomes, and growing numbers of uninsured US households. Even by the Bureau's conservative estimates, 39.8 million Americans were impoverished, the highest level since 1960, and 17.1 million lived in extreme poverty at below one-half the official threshold.
A revised October 2009 Census analysis showed 47.4 million (15.8% of the population, including one-fifth of the elderly) below the poverty line, much higher than the above figure and rising.
The official poverty level for a family of four is $21,203, a way outdated threshold developed over 40 years ago. In 2007, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said a family of four in Peoria, IL needed $42,900 to be above poverty. In Chicago, it was $49,000 and in New York nearly $72,000. The same reality exists in large and smaller cities throughout America.
A recent Brookings Institute report titled, "The Effects of the Recession on Child Poverty" was equally disturbing, showing one in five US children under age 18 in families below the official poverty level, based on September 2009 Census data. According to Brookings' Julia Isaacs:
Census 2008 information "lag considerably behind current economic conditions. Job losses and wage reductions occurring in 2009 were obviously not captured. In addition, many adverse events in 2008 were only partially captured."
As a result, current conditions are far worse than reported and will keep deteriorating ahead, for at least several years according to Isaacs. She called the situation "sobering."
It showed in late November when reported food stamp usage was at record levels, and according to a study by Cornell University's Thomas Hirschl and Washington University in St. Louis' Mark Rank, half the children in America will need food stamps at some point in their childhood, 90% for black children.
Despite a growing national crisis, Obama proposed less, not more, saying "our fiscal situation remains unacceptable," not growing poverty, homelessness, hunger and despair at levels not seen since the 1930s.
On February 1, he sent Congress a budget freezing social spending for three years, a de facto cut in real terms. At the same time, he lets Wall Street keep pillaging, plans more wealth transfers to the rich, and proposed the largest ever defense and homeland security budgets, leaving little for cash-strapped states and growing millions of desperate people out of luck and on their own.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.