[Hpn] Less aid, less food - MORE NEEDY~ Thanks To George Bush War Economics !!!

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sat, 12 Jan 2008 15:23:55 -0500


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Less aid, less food - MORE NEEDY: Cash-hungry food banks try to cope as =
growing numbers enter the ranks of 'near homeless'

http://ledger.southofboston.com:80/articles/2008/01/12/news/news01.txt




      Fisherman Keith Fitzell, 47, eats lunch at the Salvation Army in =
Plymouth. Rough weather, stricter fishing regulations and rising fuel =
prices have made for hard times. (AMELIA KUNHARDT/The Patriot Ledger)=20
By ROBERT SEARS
The Patriot Ledger

As a fisherman, Keith Fitzell's job is to put food on the table. Yet =
with prices of most everything going up even as catch quotas stay even =
or drop, he's having trouble getting food of his own.

''It's not even possible to go fishing,'' said Fitzell, who splits his =
time between the South Shore and Maine. ''You can't even break even.''

Earlier this month, he went to the Salvation Army's food pantry in =
Plymouth for the first time. In so doing, he joined a growing number of =
South Shore residents turning to local food banks and soup kitchens for =
help.

In particular, the elderly and two-parent families increasingly are =
joining the ranks of the ''near homeless,'' struggling in the face of =
soaring food, medical, fuel and other costs to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, food banks are facing tough times: the result of rising need =
and the reduced amount of state and federal aid available this year.

The Pantry Shelf in Quincy distributed food to 1,040 people in November, =
more than any November in the organization's 60-year history, said Laura =
Stracco, executive director of Interfaith Social Services, which runs =
the program.

''Our clients tell us high prescription drug costs and medical insurance =
coverage along with the price of fuel and food have them in a bind,'' =
she said.

Fuel prices are now near $100 a barrel, affecting everyone from =
fishermen like Fitzell to seniors struggling to pay heating oil bills =
(up 30 percent over last winter in Massachusetts) to large families =
shuttling around town.

Even food, including staples, has become more expensive.

In 2007, the cost of food rose 4.5 percent, according to the Bureau of =
Labor Statistics. Milk prices went up 20 percent, with eggs up more than =
40 percent.

All this has contributed to growing hunger and food insecurity - at a =
time when many nonprofits find themselves more and more challenged to =
keep up with demand.

'Becoming desperate'

A 34-year-old medical assistant and single parent of four picking up =
food at The Pantry Shelf last week said her paycheck only stretches so =
far.

''I work full time, but with the cost of living - the day care and car =
bills so I can work - making ends meet with four children is hard,'' the =
Quincy woman said.

She's not alone. Statewide, hunger and food insecurity have increased =
among Massachusetts families from 6.4 percent in 2000-2002 to 7.8 =
percent in 2003-2005, according to Project Bread.

Local numbers show the same trend of increasing demand for food =
assistance.

In the past year, the number of people receiving help from the food =
pantry run by the Plymouth Coalition for the Homeless in Kingston has =
increased by 1,400, said Jean Delaney, a case manager. The pantry serves =
12 South Shore communities.

The Pantry Shelf, meanwhile, assisted 2,700 individuals in the first =
quarter of 2007 - a 13 percent increase over the same period the =
previous year.

The number of people over age 60 receiving help has increased by 32 =
percent, while there has been an 11 percent increase in the number of =
children served, Stracco said.

''More two-parent households have begun coming to us. That's not the =
norm, which has been mostly single-parent families,'' she said.

The 600 Eastern Massachusetts pantries supplied by The Greater Boston =
Food Bank have reported increases in demand between 5 and 30 percent, =
said Stephanie Nichols, the bank's public relations manager.

''Member agencies on average receive more than 50 percent of their food =
from us, and this past fiscal year we distributed nearly 29 million =
pounds, feeding 83,000 people a week,'' said Nichols.

The Pantry Shelf serves 10 South Shore communities, but there have been =
inquiries from people in Boston and as far away as New Hampshire about =
obtaining food.

''Basically, they are becoming desperate,'' Stracco said.

The Quincy pantry's coordinator, Bettyanne Lang, has noticed an influx =
of new clients over the past few weeks as well as some former clients =
returning.

''They have their jobs and they have a place to live, but they just =
can't afford to feed a family,'' she said.

Nonprofits strained

Stracco said she has more than doubled the number of applications that =
Interfaith Social Services submits to foundations for grant money to =
keep the food pantry's shelves stocked.

Increasing demand has meant that local pantries are relying more on The =
Greater Boston Food Bank, which at the same time has seen a 27 percent =
decrease in commodities distributed nationally by the federal =
government.

There is hope a farm bill will pass, increasing federal funding for food =
banks to $250 million.

But at Thanksgiving, hoping to head off a shortfall, America's Second =
Harvest, the umbrella organization for the nation's food banks, issued =
an urgent call for 400 truckloads of food. That is the equivalent of =
11.7 million meals.

As of a week ago, 272 loads had been received.

''We're a little short, but we have a line on some more,'' spokesman =
Ross Fraser said.

Massachusetts food banks are also dealing with a $1 million cut in the =
state's Emergency Food Assistance Program, which Nichols said translates =
into about 830,000 fewer meals.

Robert Sears may be reached at bsears@ledger.com .

Edward B. Colby contributed to this report. He may be reached at =
ecolby@ledger.com .



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<DIV>
<P><FONT size=3D+1><B>Less aid, less food - MORE NEEDY: Cash-hungry food =
banks try=20
to cope as growing numbers enter the ranks of =91near =
homeless=92</B></FONT></P>
<P><STRONG><FONT size=3D4><A=20
href=3D"http://ledger.southofboston.com:80/articles/2008/01/12/news/news0=
1.txt">http://ledger.southofboston.com:80/articles/2008/01/12/news/news01=
.txt</A></FONT></STRONG></P>
<P>&nbsp;</P>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D6 cellPadding=3D0 width=3D190 align=3Dright =
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  <TBODY>
  <TR>
    <TD vAlign=3Dtop><IMG=20
      =
src=3D"http://images.townnews.com/ledger.southofboston.com/content/articl=
es/2008/01/12/news/news01.jpg"=20
      border=3D0><BR><SPAN class=3Dcaption><STRONG><FONT face=3DVerdana=20
      size=3D1>Fisherman Keith Fitzell, 47, eats lunch at the Salvation =
Army in=20
      Plymouth. Rough weather, stricter fishing regulations and rising =
fuel=20
      prices have made for hard times. (AMELIA KUNHARDT/The Patriot=20
      Ledger)</FONT></STRONG></SPAN></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
<P><I>By ROBERT SEARS<BR>The Patriot Ledger</I></P>
<P>As a fisherman, Keith Fitzell=92s job is to put food on the table. =
Yet with=20
prices of most everything going up even as catch quotas stay even or =
drop, he=92s=20
having trouble getting food of his own.<BR><BR>=91=91It=92s not even =
possible to go=20
fishing,=92=92 said Fitzell, who splits his time between the South Shore =
and Maine.=20
=91=91You can=92t even break even.=92=92<BR><BR>Earlier this month, he =
went to the=20
Salvation Army=92s food pantry in Plymouth for the first time. In so =
doing, he=20
joined a growing number of South Shore residents turning to local food =
banks and=20
soup kitchens for help.<BR><BR>In particular, the elderly and two-parent =

families increasingly are joining the ranks of the =91=91near =
homeless,=92=92 struggling=20
in the face of soaring food, medical, fuel and other costs to make ends=20
meet.<BR><BR>Meanwhile, food banks are facing tough times: the result of =
rising=20
need and the reduced amount of state and federal aid available this=20
year.<BR><BR>The Pantry Shelf in Quincy distributed food to 1,040 people =
in=20
November, more than any November in the organization=92s 60-year =
history, said=20
Laura Stracco, executive director of Interfaith Social Services, which =
runs the=20
program.<BR><BR>=91=91Our clients tell us high prescription drug costs =
and medical=20
insurance coverage along with the price of fuel and food have them in a =
bind,=92=92=20
she said.<BR><BR>Fuel prices are now near $100 a barrel, affecting =
everyone from=20
fishermen like Fitzell to seniors struggling to pay heating oil bills =
(up 30=20
percent over last winter in Massachusetts) to large families shuttling =
around=20
town.</P>
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<P>Even food, including staples, has become more expensive.<BR><BR>In =
2007, the=20
cost of food rose 4.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor =
Statistics. Milk=20
prices went up 20 percent, with eggs up more than 40 percent.<BR><BR>All =
this=20
has contributed to growing hunger and food insecurity - at a time when =
many=20
nonprofits find themselves more and more challenged to keep up with=20
demand.<BR><BR><B>=91Becoming desperate=92</B></P>
<P>A 34-year-old medical assistant and single parent of four picking up =
food at=20
The Pantry Shelf last week said her paycheck only stretches so =
far.<BR><BR>=91=91I=20
work full time, but with the cost of living - the day care and car bills =
so I=20
can work - making ends meet with four children is hard,=92=92 the Quincy =
woman=20
said.<BR><BR>She=92s not alone. Statewide, hunger and food insecurity =
have=20
increased among Massachusetts families from 6.4 percent in 2000-2002 to =
7.8=20
percent in 2003-2005, according to Project Bread.<BR><BR>Local numbers =
show the=20
same trend of increasing demand for food assistance.<BR><BR>In the past =
year,=20
the number of people receiving help from the food pantry run by the =
Plymouth=20
Coalition for the Homeless in Kingston has increased by 1,400, said Jean =

Delaney, a case manager. The pantry serves 12 South Shore=20
communities.<BR><BR>The Pantry Shelf, meanwhile, assisted 2,700 =
individuals in=20
the first quarter of 2007 - a 13 percent increase over the same period =
the=20
previous year.<BR><BR>The number of people over age 60 receiving help =
has=20
increased by 32 percent, while there has been an 11 percent increase in =
the=20
number of children served, Stracco said.<BR><BR>=91=91More two-parent =
households=20
have begun coming to us. That=92s not the norm, which has been mostly=20
single-parent families,=92=92 she said.<BR><BR>The 600 Eastern =
Massachusetts=20
pantries supplied by The Greater Boston Food Bank have reported =
increases in=20
demand between 5 and 30 percent, said Stephanie Nichols, the bank=92s =
public=20
relations manager.<BR><BR>=91=91Member agencies on average receive more =
than 50=20
percent of their food from us, and this past fiscal year we distributed =
nearly=20
29 million pounds, feeding 83,000 people a week,=92=92 said =
Nichols.<BR><BR>The=20
Pantry Shelf serves 10 South Shore communities, but there have been =
inquiries=20
from people in Boston and as far away as New Hampshire about obtaining=20
food.<BR><BR>=91=91Basically, they are becoming desperate,=92=92 Stracco =

said.<BR><BR>The Quincy pantry=92s coordinator, Bettyanne Lang, has =
noticed an=20
influx of new clients over the past few weeks as well as some former =
clients=20
returning.<BR><BR>=91=91They have their jobs and they have a place to =
live, but they=20
just can=92t afford to feed a family,=92=92 she =
said.<BR><BR><B>Nonprofits=20
strained</B><BR><BR>Stracco said she has more than doubled the number of =

applications that Interfaith Social Services submits to foundations for =
grant=20
money to keep the food pantry=92s shelves stocked.<BR><BR>Increasing =
demand has=20
meant that local pantries are relying more on The Greater Boston Food =
Bank,=20
which at the same time has seen a 27 percent decrease in commodities =
distributed=20
nationally by the federal government.<BR><BR>There is hope a farm bill =
will=20
pass, increasing federal funding for food banks to $250 =
million.<BR><BR>But at=20
Thanksgiving, hoping to head off a shortfall, America=92s Second =
Harvest, the=20
umbrella organization for the nation=92s food banks, issued an urgent =
call for 400=20
truckloads of food. That is the equivalent of 11.7 million =
meals.<BR><BR>As of a=20
week ago, 272 loads had been received.<BR><BR>=91=91We=92re a little =
short, but we=20
have a line on some more,=92=92 spokesman Ross Fraser =
said.<BR><BR>Massachusetts=20
food banks are also dealing with a $1 million cut in the state=92s =
Emergency Food=20
Assistance Program, which Nichols said translates into about 830,000 =
fewer=20
meals.<BR><BR><I>Robert Sears may be reached at <A=20
href=3D"mailto:bsears@ledger.com"><FONT =
color=3D#000066>bsears@ledger.com</FONT></A>=20
.</I><BR><BR><I>Edward B. Colby contributed to this report. He may be =
reached at=20
<A href=3D"mailto:ecolby@ledger.com"><FONT=20
color=3D#000066>ecolby@ledger.com</FONT></A> .</I></P></DIV>
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