As the American economy enters the second year of a recession, some of the institutions designed to help needy people are struggling with increased demand. Food banks across the country are reporting shortages during the holiday season as more people are losing their jobs and having a hard time making ends meet.
NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden reports on a food bank in Denver that is having a difficult time keeping up with the demand from people who need food this winter, which is up 60 percent from a year ago.
After the report, NewsHour correspondent Ray Suarez talks with two experts about how to measure the number of "food insecure" people in the country and how the recession affects food banks and charities.
"Thousands of food banks across the country are also struggling. Demand is up 25 percent over last year, and food banks in Seattle, Missouri and Alabama have closed, running out of money and supplies." - Tom Bearden
"With the economic downturn and the unemployment rate in San Joaquin County just on the rise, people who used to donate to us, either, you know, doing food donations or financial donations, we're starting to see them as clients now, because they've either lost their job, things have gotten tight in the home with, you know, at one point, gas prices going up, food prices going up, that they can't make ends meet for one reason or another." - Kristine Gibson, Food Bank Community Outreach Manager
"Well, food is almost always the first thing to go. You know, you've got to pay your rent. You don't want to get evicted. You've got to buy your Fast Pass, if you're a worker, and you've got to get to work. You've got to get on the bus to get there." - Paul Ash, San Francisco Food Bank
1. What is a food bank? Who uses food banks?
2. When people are low on money, what things do they absolutely need? What can you do without?
1. Are you surprised that food banks are having a hard time during a recession? Why or why not?
2. Would you go to a food bank if you needed to? Were you surprised that some people who used to donate to the banks now need to go there for food?
3. Would you pay more taxes (if you paid taxes) to help food banks? Why or why not?
4. Why do companies donate money to food banks? Are you more likely to shop at Wal-Mart if you know that it gave money to a food bank?