Ask anyone who has ever suffered under and unemployment and they will agree that the problem is far more extensive than simply the loss of a paycheck. Many lose their homes and even their ability to adequately provide food for their families.
With the current job and economic market being what it is, feeding the children (and their parents) right here in America, is a need greater than ever.
Nearly 40 million Americans received food stamps in April, according to a government update, the highest number ever under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Roughly 1 in 8 Americans were enrolled for food stamps during February 2010 and estimates by the USDA are that 43.3 million people will be enrolled in this program by year end.”This is the highest share of the U.S. population on SNAP,” said the anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center. What’s even more alarming is the statement that followed, “Research suggests that 1 in 3 eligible people are not receiving benefits.”
In April 2010 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U6 measure of unemployment which includes long term unemployed and those working part time due to economic reasons is 17.1% or roughly 26.4+ million people. And this is only counting the individual suffering the job market. This doesn’t include family members who are suffering as a result. Children are the most vulnerable.
Gratefully many after school programs offer low-income school children hot and nutritious meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture program. “What it allows us to do is provide those kids with an extra nutritious meal before they go home because some kids go home to nothing,” said Susan Eckes, director of child nutrition programs for the Food Bank of Northen Nevada in McCarran, Nevada.
In 2008, the USDA’s Economic Research Service reported 49 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, among those 16.7% were children. In 2008 the U3 measure of unemployment rate was 5.8%. Today it is 9.7%, or nearly double.
While the SNAP/foodstamp program is estimated to cost up to $59 billion this year, the USDA after-school meal program is expected to cost a total of $8 million. This doesn’t include the costs for thousands of private and charitable organizations that have food banks and programs.
Lisa Rake, an Associated Press writer, wrote “A lack of nutritious food, especially in the first three to five years, can have lasting effects on health and development of children. Filling their stomachs with nutritional meals helps them learn and concentrate, officials have said. [Lester Gilespie, youth program director at the Susana Wesley Family Learning Center in East Prairie, MO, offered,] “What we’ve noticed is that when kids are eating nutritional meals, they tend not to get involved in negative activities such as doing graffiti or committing delinquent acts because when their stomach is full they make good decisions.”
Federally funded programs in many states include actual meal programs, while private organizations such as the Boys and Girls clubs, and local churches have their own food programs and/or food bank services.
If you or someone you love is in need of help concerning food, there are many options for you that you must draw on for the sake of the children. Consider the following resources:
Supplemental Nutritious Assistance Program:
Many food pantries have been so overburdened by need that since the first publication of this article they have gone out of business. However, others are rising up to take their place. Be sure to check with charitable organizations within your own community to get the help needed. Federal and state programs are good, but there’s nothing better than a community coming together to help one another.