Mar
12

Hunger Here at Home

By

In February, 2011 a report came out describing food hardship in places across the United States. The Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area was listed as the 7th worst place for hunger in the nation. This year the news got worse, with the Asheville MSA listed in 3rd.

These are the facts that led to the creation of the Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council, which seeks to formulate policy solutions to the problems of food security. That group is working diligently, and you can expect to see a lot of proposals come forward in the near future.

Excerpts from the report after the jump:

2011 was another year of difficult economic struggles for American households, and the most recent food hardship data demonstrate that. When asked by the Gallup organization, “Have there been times in the last twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
[...]
In short, economic struggles largely persisted, and the struggles of the millions of households at the bottom of America’s increasingly unequal income distribution to put adequate food on the table got worse.
[...]
Only 12% of voters, roughly one in eight, thought the federal government is spending too much money on hunger, while 78% of voters say the federal government should be spending more money on solving hunger or should continue to spend the same amount. When voters are told that Congress is considering cutting billions of dollars to reduce government spending, by 77% to 15% they say cutting food assistance programs like the food stamp program is the wrong way to reduce government spending.
[...]

[...]
Food hardship rates are too high in every corner of the nation, and the national 2011 rate was higher than the 2010 rate, even though economic growth was picking up. It is crucial that the nation rebuild its economy, strengthen employment and wages, and develop public supports that will dramatically decrease these food hardship numbers and do so quickly. Essential steps include: a growing economy that provides full-time jobs at decent wages, shares prosperity and pulls households out of hunger and poverty; strengthened income supports (e.g., unemployment insurance, TANF, refundable tax credits) that help struggling workers and families; and strengthened – not reduced, as some in Congress are proposing – federal nutrition programs (SNAP/Food Stamps, school meals, WIC, summer, afterschool, and child care food) that reach more households – seniors, children, and working-age adults alike – in need and do so with more robust benefits.

For FRAC’s seven-point strategy specifically aimed at reaching the President’s goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015, see www.frac.org/pdf/endingchildhunger_2015paper.pdf. As a nation, even in difficult times, we have the resources to eliminate hunger for everyone, regardless of age or family configuration. The cost of not doing so – in terms of damage to health, education, early childhood development and productivity – is just too high. The moral cost of not doing so is even higher.
[...]
Results are based on telephone (landline or cellular) interviews in 2008 through 2011 with randomly sampled adults, age 18 or older in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Total sample sizes for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 were 355,334, 353,849, 352,840 and 353,492 respectively. Margins of error were calculated using 90% confidence intervals.


Comments

  1. This is why our campaign has voted to donate to food pantries in WNC.
    There are issues more urgent than campaign sound bites.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  2. trifecta says:

    Companies simply have to pay more here in town. Sub $10 wages just don’t cut it. On the micro level they think they are getting a great deal, but they also are losing business from employees from other companies who can’t afford food let alone their products.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  3. Mark Cates says:

    This is truly sad news. We must focus on jobs before anything else and helping businesses succeed is crucial in that endeavor.

    We are doing a disservice to the people who are suffering, if we do not make job creation our top priority in the city.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  4. TJ says:

    Well, Mark: When I attended the Tea Party candidate “event” where Cecil was the only non-Republican, I listened to several candidates specifically say that they have no intention on working to create jobs, as it was not THEIR responsibility as a public servant, AND, more to the point, that there is NO “job problem,” it’s only that people don’t want to get out and find a job. Glad you don’t buy into that.

    Cecil: it may be more important, but, don’t you think it’s easier
    just say there is no real problem?? Why do you want to make
    so much work for yourself?? ;-)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  5. TJ says:

    ” they say cutting food assistance programs like the food stamp program is the wrong way to reduce government spending.”

    What I absolutely LOVE (not!) is the following scenario:

    Person receives food stamp assistance…person starts working….person earns $100.00…this results in a cutback on benefits of 300.00 (lowered to the nearest round number for example’s sake). Person has children and minimum income at job. Person has to resort to food banks while working, while, when unemployed, food was plentiful on food stamps.

    Enter Child Protective Services:

    Person has children, may or may not work, gets benefits-or not. Parent spends equivelant of reduced benefit above (approximately 46.00/mo. after starting work). CPS intervenes and declares parent neglectful and/or abusive. Child placed in foster care, etc., etc…

    The paradox?

    Social services would consider it neglect when carried out by the individual parent, yet, the agency makes those cuts, and it’s “what the computer tells them is required,” therefore, they can starve a child while a parent can’t.

    So, of course, the bigger government can make those cuts…

    After all, it’s not THEIR children they are neglecting.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  6. Tim Peck says:

    “Have there been times in the last twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”

    Did they ask, “On that one particular day in the last 12 months, what else did you spend that money on?”
    …………………………..

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  7. Mark Cates says:

    TJ,

    [I listened to several candidates specifically say that they have no intention on working to create jobs, as it was not THEIR responsibility as a public servant, AND, more to the point, that there is NO “job problem,” it’s only that people don’t want to get out and find a job.]

    Could you cite some actual statements?

    I too have heard nearly all of the candidates speak and your interpretation appears inaccurate to me. I’d really like the full quote on who said, “job problem”. I imagine there is a good deal more context to that statement.

    Perhaps it is the difference between believing that gov’t doesn’t create sustainable jobs, but businesses do?

    [it’s only that people don’t want to get out and find a job. Glad you don’t buy into that.]

    It’s true I don’t fully buy into that statement, as I am sure none of the candidates do either. Sadly though, here in Asheville this last month, I have experienced this very problem. 2 people were hired, who just decided not to show up to work. It’s difficult for me to fathom as they still remain unemployed.

    I was also in a local restaurant that was experiencing the same thing with 1 of their employees.

    I have tried to be clear that I don’t fully endorse this comment “it’s only that people don’t want to get out and find a job”, but there is some truth to it in our society today. I would appreciate not being taken out of context on the issue.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  8. Gordon Smith says:

    Since Mark Cates is here, I wanted to take the opportunity to let everyone know that he’s been a committed part of the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council’s momentum. Tip your hat to him, as he’s been giving generously of his time and talents to help make a difference.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  9. RHS says:

    Job creation is an undeniable factor in finding a solution to this problem but it should also be remembered that Asheville is notorious for having a low wage economy AND a high cost of living. As a result there are a significant number of people served by local food banks, services, etc. who are employed.

    Thumb up 7

  10. Diogenes says:

    Tim Peck, as usual, obfuscates the issue, e.g. food insecurity, by asking the typical racist, classist, 1% Conservative Right Wing question:

    “Did they ask, ‘On that one particular day in the last 12 months, what else did you spend that money on?”

    My guess the answer(s) might have been rent, heat, electric, gas, sales taxes, gas for the car, bus fare, clothes and shoes for the kids, school supplies, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.

    The notion that food stamp recipients are large fat black women driving pink Cadillacs is so wrong and so distorts the reality of so many struggling American families it makes me wonder if maybe Mr. Peck needs to get out more.

    Children are the largest group relying on food stamps. More white than black and Hispanic. More Christian than Muslim. So exactly what ax is it you want to grind Peck?

    Thumb up 6

  11. TJ says:

    Mark,

    First, thank you for your work on the food issues. Well done!

    I actually DO have quotes from that meeting. I have to dig them up from under my daughter’s endless “stuff.”

    I do recall one person clarifying exactly WHO creates the jobs, etc. You are also correct that some DO take advantage of the “system” I know many that would like tho be free from it completely. There is not a good system to transition out on the state level. Soc Sec has a very good system tbe state could model and have better success.

    Thanks again for contributing to a better Asheville ?-)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  12. TJ says:

    Mark, btw, you were not in attendance at the meeting to which I refer… I was not intending that as directed toward you personally.

    I take each person individually, not as a collective…wnatever the beliefs or politics

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  13. Diogenes says:

    Percent of American children (under 18) living in poverty (2010)?

    22.4

    How many of them white?

    12.4

    Other countries (2005 figures)

    Mex 26.2
    UK 19.8
    Can 15.5
    Aust 12.5
    France 7.9
    Sweden 2.5

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  14. TJ says:

    ” As a result there are a significant number of people served by local food banks, services, etc. who are employed.”

    Absolutely!

    Sorry for all the typos…my droid phone is worse than iPhone.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  15. Michelle Mead-Armor says:

    The Food Bank here in Highlands is overwhelmed by demand. It’s very odd living here, and seeing the huge difference between those who have so much, and those who have so little.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0