You Are Not Alone
If you find yourself hungry and in need of assistance, you are not alone. Visiting the local food bank and/or receiving food-stamp assistance has become the new “normal” for many low-income and homeless families. Hunger levels have been reaching new levels and among the ranks of the hungry are 16 million children nationwide. As a result, there has been a growing need for more food banks and pantries throughout the nation.
Hunger Reaching Beyond The Homeless and Destitute
According to a 2012 study conducted by the UCLA Center for Health and Policy, there has been a 40% increase in demand in food banks since 2008. According to the Second Harvest Food Bank, the largest food bank network in the country, even those who are college educated professional couples have turned to food banks and local pantries.
Food Stamps Programs Alone Inadequate For Many
In June of 2012, The United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) reported that nearly 47 million, or about one in about five Americans currently receive food stamp assistance. A figure that has increased by as much as 50% over the past few years. Yet the amount you can receive in food stamps per individual family member is extremely limited. In most cases, the national food stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) provides only about $4.50 worth of food per day per recipient. A slim sum indeed.
Fortunately, where food-stamps are insufficient to reduce hunger, there are hundreds of food banks and pantries across the nation to make up the difference. The problem, however, is that income levels keep falling while the poverty rate remains static at about 15 percent according to the newly released 2011 Census report issued in September of 2012.
According to the U.S. Census on Poverty, a vast number of poverty-stricken Americans are unable to climb out of poverty. In 2011, 20.4 million people had income below one-half of their poverty threshold. This represents nearly 6.6 percent of all people and 44.0 percent of those stuck at the current poverty level.
Food Bank Distribution – A Network of Help
Food banks and pantries provide low income and homeless people with fresh food and nutritional meals.
The United States established the first food bank in 1967. Since then hundreds of food banks and pantries have been opened across the nation. Currently, food banks serve thousands of agencies providing meals to the public on a regular basis. The U.S.D.A estimates that these organizations distribute more than 2.5 billion pounds of food to the hungry every year.
Food banks are in essence distribution facilities run by mostly volunteers that warehouse and distribute food that has been donated to local non-profit organizations through a number of different supply channels mostly made up of other non-profit organizations, local businesses, faith-based churches, mosques, synagogues, local growers and the charity of individuals within the local community.
Types of Food Found At Food Banks
Unfortunately, because of health and safety concerns, most food banks are unable to accept donations of fresh produce, preferring instead canned or packaged food. Those foods that are in greatest demand by local food banks include milk, juice, canned soups, vegetables, and fish, boxed cereals and oatmeal, pasta, bread, peanut butter, beans, rice and baby food including infant formula.
Find Ways To Help – Locating Food Banks and Pantries Near You
Food banks rely on support from the government as well as public donations. Some ways you can help include contacting your elected officials about increasing the funding for food stamp programs. Another way to help is to volunteer your services to a local food bank. You can also start a food drive at your work, school or place of worship.
For information on local Food Banks and Pantries as well as other no-income low-income helpful resources near you select your state from the list below: