Crisis Accelerates: Food Banks Running Out of Food

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Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Food pantry organizers “unable to plug the hole”

By Paul Joseph WATSON, Infowars

The head of the Pennsylvania’s largest food bank has warned that demand for groceries following a $5 billion dollar cut in the food stamp program cannot be met.

Joe Arthur of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank “says the donor network for the food banks is already stretched too thin to quickly expand,” according to an Associated Press report.

From November 1st, $5 billion was wiped off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a result of a planned stimulus withdrawal. Almost 50 million Americans who are supported by the program face an average loss of $36 dollars a month, which is a significant amount for those living near the poverty line.

Food pantry organizers will be “unable to plug the hole being left by a reduction in federal funding for food stamps,” which will leave families of four in Pennsylvania facing the prospect of 20 fewer meals per month, according to Arthur.

The Association of Arizona Food Banks sounds a similar warning, noting that the 5 per cent cut, although appearing minor on the surface, equates to about half a week’s budget for someone whose primary source of food is SNAP.

Spokesman Brian Simpson illustrated how the massive surge in demand for food was linked to the struggling economy.

Before the 2007 recession, the five food banks in his association were handing out an average of 69,000 emergency food boxes per month. Last month, 108,300 boxes were handed out, an increase of around 80 per cent.

The true impact of the cut will really be felt in the final week of November, when food stamp recipients will begin to run out of benefits.

According to Margaret Purvis, the CEO of the largest food bank in America, members of her Food Bank for New York City organization, are “panicking” over the decrease in benefits, fearing a rush of hungry Americans.

“We’re telling everyone to make sure that you are prepared for longer lines,” Purvis told NBC News.

Her comments were echoed by Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, who stated, “It’s going to send people into a charitable system that’s already overwhelmed and screaming for help itself.”

Purvis also invoked the threat of riots caused by millions of Americans going hungry when she told Salon.com, “If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food.”

This has prompted some to speculate that the Department of Homeland Security is gearing up for potential unrest with its recent hiring of security guards to protect government buildings in New York, as well as the purchase of half a million dollars worth of fully automatic pepper spray launchers and projectiles that are designed to be used during riot control situations.

Food bank CEO warns of riots over major food stamp cuts

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A sign displays that a shop accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), more commonly known as Food Stamps, in the GrowNYC Greenmarket in Union Square on September 18, 2013 in New York City (AFP Photo)

RT

The US food stamp system is to be reduced by $5 billion starting in November. The average benefit will shrink and the overall number of people receiving it will diminish by millions. The CEO of America’s largest food bank says the cuts will end in riots.

“Riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food,” Margaret Purvis, president and CEO of the Food bank for New York City, told online news and entertainment site Salon.com

She added that families face the “daunting” prospect of losing a whole week’s worth of food every month.

Currently, the program costs about $80 billion per year and provides food aid nearly 15 per cent of all US households – over 45 million people.

A big automatic cut is expected on November 1, taking $5 billion from federal food-stamp spending over 2014. The benefit is set to shrink by 5 per cent.

One of the reasons for the reduction is the temporary expansion of the food-stamp program in 2009 as part of the Recovery Act.

Thus, the maximum monthly benefit for a household of four will drop by $36 a month, by $29 for a family of three, and by $20 for two people, according to a report published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

That bill spent $45.2 billion to increase monthly benefit levels to around $133.

Now, almost 45 million people get food stamps – compared to 26.3 million, or 8.7% of the population, in 2007.

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About 15% of Americans live in poverty, so why is no one talking about it?

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PressTV

It’s not my intention to belittle the government shutdown or the political showdown underway between President Obama and the GOP, but more often than not, America’s fickle news media is dominated by one subject. It’s what gets left out that is often more telling than what everyone (or at least the news) is talking about.

Remember the food stamp fight? It was only two weeks ago that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would strip $40bn from Snap (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka the food stamp program) over the next 10 years by imposing work requirements and eliminating waivers for “some able bodied adults”. The move, which would effectively cut support for millions of poor Americans, was seen by critics as a heartless attempt by House Republicans to hack away at the nation’s dwindling social safety net.
But, what is more outrageous is that it took a draconian piece of legislation to even get the nation’s attention on what has become one of the country’s most ignored issues: poverty.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that out of 52 mainstream media outlets analyzed, coverage of poverty amounted to less than 1% of available news space from 2007 to 2012. It’s even more astonishing considering that period covered a historic recession.

One of the report’s conclusions was that media organizations chose not to cover poverty because it was potentially uncomfortable to advertisers seeking to reach a wealthy consumer audience. As Barbara Ehrenreich, who contributes articles on social issues for Time Magazine, put it: They don’t want really depressing articles about misery and hardship near their ads.

Poverty coverage is seen as non-lucrative, time-consuming and involves high levels of commitment that editors are unwilling to give their reporters in this age of newsroom budget tightening. The greatest irony, however, is that poverty, as Tampa Bay Times media critic, Eric Deggans, told The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard earlier this year “is in some ways the ultimate accountability story – because, often, poverty happens by design”.

In a nation where, according to the US Census Bureau’s poverty statistics released last month, 46.5 million people (roughly 15%) of the nation’s population lives in poverty, the idea that the media would not cover such a pressing human interest story because of financial troubles is misguided, if not inexcusable. It represents a failure on the part of the industry in fulfilling its role in serving the public interest.

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