The Faces of Poverty

July 18th, 2014 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on The Faces of Poverty

In exactly two months, Albert’s will be exhibiting at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore. The Expos are always an amazing experience, but I find that the most poignant and compelling part of the show is about two hours after the show is over, everything is packed up, and the local food bank volunteers come around to pick up the show food that was on display. After every show, we donate all of our food that was on display to the local food bank in the town that hosts the show. They, of course, provide for feeding the homeless and those who are uncertain about where their next meal will come from.

It’s such a sharp contrast to the actual three days of the show, where food is in abundance – with everyone walking around eating and enjoying the plethora of delights. Working in the food industry and constantly being around pallets and pallets of product can make us all forget that food is not in abundance everywhere, or even available to everyone. I am thankful for the opportunity to be reminded of how very real the lack of food is for far too many people.

The food banks do a wonderful job of providing those who need food the most with an opportunity to eat. Critical in the fight against hunger is the organization, Feeding America. Formerly known as America’s Second Harvest, they are the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. They describe their mission as feeding America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engaging our country in the fight to end hunger. Each year, the Feeding America network provides food assistance to more than 25 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including more than nine million children and nearly three million seniors. Their network of more than 200 food banks serves all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Feeding America network secures and distributes more than two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. On their website they have provided some pretty staggering statistics compiled through the U.S. Census Bureau and the USDA. We encourage you to visit their website, but below are some of the more staggering statistics that we face in our country:

Poverty Statistics

• In 2012, 46.5 million people (15.0 percent) were in poverty.

• In 2012, 26.5 million (13.7 percent) of people ages 18-64 were in poverty.

• In 2012, 16.1 million (21.8 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.

• In 2012, 3.9 million (9.1 percent) seniors 65 and older were in poverty.

• The overall poverty rate according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure is 16.1%, as compared with the official poverty rate of 15.1%.

• Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, there are 49.7 million people living in poverty, 3.1 million more than are represented by the official poverty measure (46.5 million).

Statistics on Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Security

• In 2012, 49.0 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children.

• In 2012, 14.5 percent of households (17.6 million households) were food insecure.

• In 2012, 5.7 percent of households (7.0 million households) experienced very low food security.

• In 2012, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.0 percent compared to 11.9 percent.

• In 2012, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.0 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (35.4 percent) or single men (23.6 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (24.6 percent) and Hispanic households (23.3 percent).

• In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60), or 8.4% of all seniors were food insecure.

• Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 2.4 percent in Slope County, ND to a high of 35.2 percent in Holmes County, MS

Statistics on the use of Emergency Food Assistance and Federal Food Assistance Programs

• In 2012, 59.4 percent of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the three major Federal food assistance programs –Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program), The National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

• Feeding America provides emergency food assistance to an estimated 37 million low-income people annually, a 46 percent increase from 25 million since Hunger in America 2006.

• Among members of Feeding America, 74 percent of pantries, 65 percent of kitchens, and 54 percent of shelters reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites.

This is so unacceptable. We need to do more… and we can do more. Please go to the Feeding America website and give of either your time or money… or both. Thank you!