Hunger up 16% in 1997: US Conference of Mayors survey FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 24 May 1998 12:15:30 -0700 (PDT)

FWD *excerpt* from
Hunger, U.S.A., Revisited

Four months after the last of $27 billion in food-stamp cuts took effect,
there is mounting evidence that the number of people who can't get enough
to eat without help is rapidly increasing. Many charity leaders and experts
on hunger believe that the cuts are at least partly to blame.

"The economy is booming by most standards we use to measure it, and yet
we're saying our demand is up," says Sister Christine Vladimiroff, a
Benedictine nun who runs Chicago-based Second Harvest, the nation's largest
charity to getting food to the poor. "People come to us because their
cupboards are bare," Sister Vladimiroff said. "We don't want to have to
say, 'Well, ours are, too'."

A recent U.S. Conference of Mayors survey reports that there were average
1997 increases of 16 percent in requests for emergency food -- the largest
jump in the 29-city survey since 1992. In addition, the study found that 19
percent of those seeking help were turned away, and 46 percent of the
cities reported that charities and other private programs provided
inadequate amounts of food to those helped. Forty-four percent of city
officials cited cuts in the food-stamp program as a chief cause of the

But many hunger workers, according to the Associated Press, said the blame
cannot be placed solely on the changes in the food-stamp program, which
reduced the stamps' value, limited to three months the eligibility of
able-bodied, childless adults and denied benefits to most legal immigrants.
Other, perhaps larger, factors include unemployment and low-paying jobs.

Second Harvest supplies through a network of food banks more than a billion
pounds of food a year to soup kitchens, battered women's shelters,
meals-on-wheels programs for the elderly and other services for the poor
and homeless. In an informal survey, Second Harvest found it took an
average of 14 percent more food to feed the hungry in November, 1997 than
it did the previous year.

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have received waivers for the
cutoff of childless adults in areas of high unemployment.

A.V. Krebs is director of the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project, P.O.
Box 2201, Everett, Washington 98203-0201.  See his website on the Internet


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