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November 28, 2008

On November 26, 2008, THE WASHINGTON POST reported that: "Fueled by rising unemployment and food prices, the number of Americans on food stamps is poised to exceed 30 million for the first time this month, surpassing the historic high set in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina." Back in April THE JOURNAL reported on the shortages faced by many food pantries. The situation has only gotten worse. Use the map below to find out where you can give and get food aid in your locale.

The news at the grocery store is grim for many. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices rose by 4% last year, the largest increase in 17 years. And, the USDA predicts they will rise another 4% this year. Eggs are up 40% in the past year; milk up 26% a gallon; a loaf of standard bread, 20%.

All across the nation families, government agencies and food banks are feeling the pinch. Almost one in l0 people in Ohio get food stamps; one in eight in Michigan, and one in six West Virginians. The rising food prices make that assistance worth less and less and food banks and pantries are facing increased need and those same higher prices.

The government has specific terms to quantify the nation's access to food — recently removing "hunger" from its designations.

  • Food security People have access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
  • Low food security: Reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
  • Very low food security: Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
The federal government reports its annual figures in numbers of "food secure." In 2006, 89 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the entire year. The remaining households (10.9 percent) were food insecure at least some time during that year, essentially unchanged from 11.0 percent in 2005. The prevalence of very low food security was 4.0 percent of households, also essentially unchanged from 2005 (3.9 percent).

America's Second Harvest profiles extensive demographic profiles of emergency food clients at charitable feeding agencies. Their Hunger Study 2006 found that 4.5 million different people receive emergency food assistance from the system in any given week.

Find out how you can get or give assistance through the links below and at America's Second Harvest:

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BILL MOYERS JOURNAL is not responsible for content on outside sites.

Published on April 11, 2008.

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NOW WITH BILL MOYERS' 2002 broadcast "Life on the Edge" told the stories of families living in Oregon, a state found by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to have a high rate of "food insecurity" and hunger.
References and Reading:
America's Second Harvest
America's Second Harvest provides nationwide a network of member food banks and engages our country in the fight to end hunger. You can search their database for a food panty near you and get tips on how to donate and volunteer.

"Americans' Food Stamp Use Nears All-Time High"
THE WASHINGTON POST, Jane Black, November 26, 2008.

"About 1.1 Million Ohioans Receive Food Stamps, Highest In Nation"
AHN Media, Julie Farby, March 25, 2008.

"High Grocery Bills? Get Great Deals on Dated Food Amish Country Grocery Store Says Outdated or Damaged Food Is Fine to Sell"
ABC News, Ryan Owens and Ely Brown, March 18, 2008

"Hunger Pains"
THE WASHINGTON POST, Kirstin Downey, April 8, 2008

"One in 6 West Virginians is on food stamps: Officials say higher cost of food, fuel diminish value of assistance"
CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL, Justin D. Anderson, March 26, 2008.

"Rising Food Prices Hard in Brooklyn"
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Amanda Coleman and Veronika Belenkaya, April 8, 2008.

"What Grocers Teach Us About The U.S. Economy"
FORBES, Melanie Lindner, April 9, 2008.

Also This Week:

Bill Moyers sits down with Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley, to discuss what direction the U.S. should pursue in the often-overlooked question of food policy. Pollan is author of IN DEFENSE OF FOOD: AN EATER'S MANIFESTO.

Discover innovative schemes aiming to change the way our nation eats. View Will Allen, of Growing Power, a pioneer in the urban farming movement in action. Find out about what Alice Waters, international-known chef and sustainable farm advocate, is hoping to see on the White House Lawn. And take a virtual visit to one of artist Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates.

Find out simple ways that you can change the world one meal at a time.

Why are America's food banks suffering shortages? Find out what you can do to help.

Is it a farm bill or a food bill? What's behind the debate over American farm policy.

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