Saturday, August 13, 2011

Amid Economic Unease, Demand Climbs at U.S. Food Banks

Washington (CNN) -- Feeding the hungry is the mission at Manna Food Center, a food bank in the suburbs of the nation's capital. This year, officials here are seeing more and more people who need their help.

America's slow recovery from the worst economic crisis in decades has left families across the country struggling to put food on their tables, whether or not they have a job.

With an unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent and millions of people working part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time positions, a record 45.8 million people -- one of every seven -- received food stamps from the government in May. Demand for this kind of federal help has risen in all 50 states.
Manna helps people who get food stamps and thousands of others who do not qualify for them. The center says the number of people it serves has risen dramatically in recent years -- from 82,683 in fiscal year 2008 to 172,627 people in 2011.

On a recent Friday morning, trucks arrived at the warehouse to drop off food the organization rescues from 40 area grocery stores, items that are reaching their sell-by dates but are still safe to eat. Volunteers worked to retrieve the deliveries from the loading docks, while others went from shelf to shelf filling boxes with goods or helping wheel them out to clients' cars.

In the office, people began lining up around noon to receive the 70 pounds of fresh produce, canned goods and other items Manna hands out to each family every 30 days. Old and young. White, black and Hispanic. Some came alone; others brought their children or other family members.

The economy is adding jobs, but not quickly enough to trickle down to the families the food bank serves.
"Any growth that the economy is feeling, the folks here at Manna are not feeling that yet," said Natalie Corbin, Manna's development director, during an interview in the center's main warehouse in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "In fact, our numbers, from year to year have continued to trend upwards. So until we see a dramatic change in the economy, we're going to continue to see a dramatic increase in folks who are coming here.

"We're expecting this winter to be the highest in history of Manna for folks needing food assistance."
Even people who have jobs are having a hard time feeding their families.

Read the complete story here.

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