Mon 29 Sep 2008
[This post is cross-posted at Cure This.org].
From a Washington Post editorial by Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition against Hunger:
Our country has been told that a gargantuan government rescue of the private sector is necessary because the collapse of major financial institutions would lead to unthinkable outcomes for society. Almost as if by magic, our nation’s leaders conjure up vast sums to respond to this crisis.
Yet when advocates point out that our nation is facing an altogether different kind of crisis, one of soaring hunger and homelessness, and that a large-scale bailout is needed to prevent social service providers nationwide from buckling under the increasing load, we are told that the money these agencies need just doesn’t exist.
In 2006, fully 35.5 million Americans, 4 million more than in 1999, lived in households that couldn’t afford enough food, according to the Agriculture Department. Those households included more than 4 million children.
Last December, the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that out of 23 major American cities, 80 percent had an increase in people using emergency soup kitchens and food pantries and 43 percent had an increase in the number of homeless children. All that happened between November 2006 and November 2007.
How did the federal government respond? It didn’t.
The only federal program that provides cash to both emergency feeding programs and homelessness prevention services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program, wasn’t expanded by a penny…
…When we ask members of Congress and lobbyists to help obtain serious funding increases to meet the soaring needs, we are patronizingly praised for our good work but told that times are just too tough to increase budgets. Maybe there will be more money when the economy improves, they tell us, oblivious to the reality that funding for our programs is most needed when the economy is weakest.