Food Banks and Food Stamps

There is a comment by Stanley Tucci in the Good Buzz section of the January 2010 Good Housekeeping magazine about the New York City Food Bank. It started me thinking. He says that, “right now, the Food Bank is feeding 2.6 million people in New York City, twice as many as two years ago–and the shelves at the warehouse are not as full, because donations are down.” According to the Department of Public Planning, the population of New York City was 8,363,710 in July of 2008. That means that 25% of the people in NYC depend on the food bank for food. That is an amazing number of people who can’t afford food in the wealthiest country in the world.

According to the Food Bank for New York City website, “In New York City, one of the richest cities in the world, food poverty is around every corner. Throughout the five boroughs, approximately 1.3 million people — largely comprised of women, children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities — rely on soup kitchens and food pantries. In addition, the number of New Yorkers experiencing difficulty affording food for themselves and their families has doubled to approximately four million since 2003.

There is an article in the November 28, 2009 New York Times titled, “Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades.” The first paragraph says, “With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children. That is another amazing statistic. The article goes on to say that, “Use has grown by half or more in dozens of suburban counties from Boston to Seattle, including such bulwarks of modern conservatism as California’s Orange County, where the rolls are up more than 50 percent.” According to the article, the food stamp program is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

All of this is going on while Goldman Sachs is planning to dispense $23 billion in bonuses for 2009. I wonder what these Goldman Sachs employees did to earn $23 billion in bonuses? What’s wrong with this picture? That money could fill the shelves for a long time at a lot of food banks. I’m willing to bet that billions of dollars are going to people who probably don’t really need more money anyway.

The U.S. government estimates that the deployment of more troops to Afghanistan will cost around $30 billion next year. That would supply a few food banks too. Here is a Los Angeles Times article about the cost of the troop build up.

I stumbled across this site while researching some facts for this story. It calculates the cost of Americas’ wars in real time. It’s called, “Cost of War.

Would it be fair to say that “Nero fiddled while Rome starved?” While there are probably not many people actually starving in this country, there are millions of people struggling to obtain food for their families. In the richest country on earth, this should be a national scandal. It is a national disgrace. Does this country have its priorities straight?

One Response to “Food Banks and Food Stamps”

  1. John says:

    I’ve worked in soup kitchens before and there’s no way to check income so no one is turned away. Any time I worked, people with 3 piece suits would come in for their free meal. Lets say you spend $5-$10 a meal for dinner, five free meals a week could save you upwards of $200 a month. Even more for families.

    Your third paragraph states that food stamps feed 1 in 8 people and 1 in 4 children. Maybe they should hand out stamps for vasectomies to go with the food stamps.

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