What happens to a free nation and a freedom of spirit when the economy is so bad families are forced to go on food stamps in order to survive? Freedom dies in growling stomachs.


Many in the world view the USA as a bunch of fatsos with bulging bellies on the brink of dementia and Alzheimer’s:

(CBS/AP) Having a big belly in your 40s can boost your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia decades later, a new study suggests.
It’s not just about your weight. While previous research has found evidence that obesity in middle age raises the chances of developing dementia later, the new work found a separate risk from storing a lot of fat in the abdomen. Even people who weren’t overweight were susceptible.

The fact burning in the suburban streets and boiling in the urban core is that many Americans are hungry and poorer now and they need government Food Stamps assistance just to put food on the table:

Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s.
The number of recipients, who must have near-poverty incomes to qualify for benefits averaging $100 a month per family member, has fluctuated over the years along with economic conditions, eligibility rules, enlistment drives and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which led to a spike in the South.

Americans aren’t just hurting in the cities, but rural areas are also seeking ways to keep bellies full and pantries stocked. In Lincoln, Nebraska, churches have tried to step into to help feed the new, ordinary, poor:

Lincoln-area residents can combat rising grocery prices through the Angel Food program offered by two local churches.
Lincoln City Church, 5001 S. First St., joined the program in June. Each month, individuals or families may order boxes of food at a cost of $30, plus $1 handling.
The food is valued at an average retail price of $60 per box.

In Oshkosh, Wisconsin the family pizza parlor is getting pinched by high wheat prices:

Jeff “Blackie” Weigandt, owner of West End Pizza in Oshkosh, said he’s paying about four times more for flour than what he paid nearly a year ago. Weigandt said he uses about 700 pounds of flour a week at his business on West 20th Avenue.
“We check all of our suppliers to see who has the best prices, but it’s about quadrupled in price per 50 pound bag,” he said. “Flour is the one that has taken off in price this year. The price doubled in one week and that was just within the past month.”

In Miami, Florida the price of a loaf of bread is quickly becoming unaffordable:

Last week in a Miami Publix, the cheapest 20-ounce loaf of white bread cost $1.85 (on special). Most brands of the same size loaf were priced from $2.49 to $2.79.
In 1998, white bread cost an average of 85 cents a pound and $1.03 in February 2006. The price rose to $1.32 a pound last month, according to federal data. And that’s on top of overall food price increases of 4 percent last year and an additional 3.5 to 4.5 percent expected this year, according to federal data.

In West Virginia, one in six residents receive Food Stamps:

A total of 122,877 of the state’s estimated 743,064 households currently receive food stamps. That’s up from 105,365 households in 2003.
But while the number of people on the program has jumped sharply, the federal government has raised the average per-person monthly benefits over that time by just $12 to $85.
Meanwhile, the cost of food is expected to jump by up to 4 percent this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Where does this dangerous hungering of American lead us?
Are we — as a nation of growling stomachs — headed for mandatory Plumpy Nut home deliveries?

13 Comments

  1. Anne —
    We do seem to have our priorities mixed up a bit. We don’t value public schooling, or small businesses or protecting the welfare of the poorer family unit — but we’ll bail out the big banks, pay for an unholy war and give out school vouchers like ice cream.

  2. It makes me sad when I hear stories of people that use their food stamps to buy wedding cakes and canned coffee when there’s a world of bulk nutritional food (black beans, anyone?) out there waiting to be eaten. What can we do to educate the most needy?

  3. our people are hungry. Our kids are dying in a war no one really wanted. And no one seems to care. Is this our new democracy? Is this the example we demand the world follow?

  4. Gordon!
    Well, that’s a great question, Gordon. We need to be careful, though, that not all people who take Food Stamps are using them to buy candy and treats.
    There was an article from a couple of years ago where two Congressmen tried to live for a month on their $21 a week Food Stamp ration. They couldn’t do it. They were starving. They posted their Safeway receipts online showing what they bought every day and it wasn’t enough. They could never quell their hunger.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/15/AR2007051501957.html
    http://foodstampchallenge.typepad.com/
    I also know a lot of people who, for any small financial setback, will apply for government subsidies to “get back” what they paid in — those people should be more closely screened to stop the obvious abuse.

  5. Anne —
    We need a new democrat president and an overwhelming democrat majority in the House and Senate to set things right again.
    A lot of good could be done in four years with the right support. A lot of time will be spent reversing all the bad decisions of the last 8 years. That energy takes us backward instead of forward and that is a big problem.

  6. When you’re poor it’s hard to buy healthy foods, but not impossible.
    Forget about lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables and that sort of thing. And milk is a precious commodity now at $4.00 to 5.00 a gallon.
    When you’ve got a family to feed your going to load up on starches and cheap fatty cuts of meat. That’s the tendency. You want to stretch the dollar and feed those hungry bellies and maybe even get another meal out of that box of pasta. So often you will see someone on food stamps and they will be overweight, even obese. And then folks think they’re not starving and question why we are giving them food stamps. But that’s because they are consuming a highly unbalanced starch-laden diet.
    But you’re right, Gordon. With education it’s possible to eat healthy on foodstamps supplemented by the local food pantry. Canned beans, as you mention are nutritionally dense. And canned vegetables are pretty good if you can drain and rinse the salt or buy low sodium. Canned fruit in its own juices or light syrup is another good item. As you say peanut butter is great. I buy a really large jar at my local Food Lion for about $7.00 and it lasts an eternity. Tuna and chicken packed in water are also great protein. Our nutritionist suggests powdered milk if you can’t afford fresh. She reports it is just as nutritious. I’ve actually learned alot from her about healthy eating, myself. So it’s easier said then done to eat healthy.
    I agree, David, that the damage done seems insurmountable. But we will and can build back up what’s been destroyed and neglected.
    The American people are smart and strong and resourceful and will make that very clear this election. Really, who among us is better off because of the Bush administration? I contend that the poor, middle class and even the rich were losers.

  7. Hi David,
    On the BBC last week the World Debate programme focussed on food and the impending global crisis.
    the discussion covered some interesting points.
    for example, with a few large corporations controlling the supply chain that brings food from the farmer to the supermarket (85% if i remember correctly) the balance of power is so skewed that its abuse becomes uncontrollable. Like all good capitalists, they buy cheap from the farmer and sell it dear to the buyer. But their control over the market is so tight that they can actually create a dip in the price during harvest time every year – making sure that the food is procured at extremely low rates.
    you can watch the debate here –
    http://www.ifad.org/media/video/food/

  8. Great comment, dmtessi! I love your research!
    I think a government food plan could provide some mandatory good. Give them a meal plan that is healthy and cheap! They will be fed, made healthier and we all win.
    You know how the diet plans have “food subscriptions” you can buy to have food delivered to your home?
    Why not have a similar federal program to replace Food Stamps? Send the good food to the people’s homes — and if they’re hungry, they’ll eat it and feel better. Why let them have access to buying junk food that will kill them and later weigh down the national healthcare system with self-inflicted illnesses?

  9. Excellent video link, Dananjay, thank you!
    It sounds like wheat could be the new oil — controlled by monopolies and artificially made scarce to control the minds and stomachs of a rebellious people.
    We can live without oil.
    Living without food is another matter entirely.
    We’ve shed blood and started wars over a thirst for oil — how much farther will we go to fill our empty bellies?