3 Powerful Graphs Behind the Food-vs.-Fuel Debate
is not acceptable. Its scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people, Trussell Trust Executive Chairman Chris Mould said in an e-mailed statement. The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks. Food prices have risen by 12.6 percent more than inflation over the past six years, outstripping wages, and higher energy prices are likely to see more people forced to choose between eating and heating this winter, the charity said. Food-bank clients are giving back food items that need cooking because they cant afford to turn on the electricity, the trust said. There are twice as many food banks as last year, accounting for some of the increase in demand, the trust said, though well-established food banks are also reporting that theyre helping more people. Welfare Overhaul An overhaul of the welfare system has led more people to seek help, the trust said, with 117,442 people referred to food banks by agencies including the health service, social workers and police because of delays in welfare payments compared with 35,597 last year. Camerons spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, said the increase had been driven by the government axing restrictions on officials referring people to food banks and reflected a British tradition of charitable help for the poor. Use of the facilities increased 10 times under the Labour government that left office in 2010, he added. Its this government that has lifted the block on job centers being able to point people in the direction of the type of additional assistance that food banks provide, Gray told reporters in London . The U.K. has a proud tradition of voluntary and charitable organisations providing additional support alongside the welfare system. The previous government stopped job centers, where job seekers register for unemployment benefit and seek work, issuing vouchers for food banks because they said other help was available and they could not provide consistent support as they were unevenly distributed around the country. Food-bank use increased from 2,814 people in 2005-2006 to 40,898 in 2009-2010, when Labour lost power, the Trussell Trust said. Food banks supported by the charity were used by 346,992 people in 2012-2013. To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at firstname.lastname@example.org To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com Volunteer Sorts Food at Food Bank Will Oliver/AFP via Getty Images There are twice as many food banks as last year, accounting for some of the increase in demand, the trust said, though well-established food banks are also reporting that theyre helping more people.
Elam’s report Food Costs Are Eating American Family Budgets provide a powerful backdrop for the food-vs.-fuel debate. All are based on real-world industry data from inherently unbiased sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce. What will they uncover about the controversial topic of ethanol production? The trend was our friend In 1950, the average American spent approximately 26% of his or her disposable income on food. Think about that. For every $100 leftover after taxes, individuals had just $74 to spend on non-food expenditures. Luckily, advances in agricultural production, logistics and transportation, and food availability have steadily lowered the amount of money spent putting food on the table. Food expenditures as a percent of disposable income fell to 20% by the mid-1960’s, zoomed lower than 16% in the early 1980’s, and ducked under 12% for the first time in history in 2000. That’s quite the trend, except for one thing: It’s reversing. Source: FarmEcon LLC, Food Costs aAre Eating American Family Budgets. Food prices are affected by many variables, such as input costs to farmland (energy, fertilizer, and the like), fuel prices, and selling prices for crops. There is no single cause and effect. Unfortunately, there’s a mountain of evidence supporting claims that increasing ethanol demand is a major contributor to higher commodity prices of most major agricultural crops.
The nation’s food banks, already stretched thin because of the poor economy, are expecting to see an increase in demand as a result. Congress is also pursuing further cuts to the program. Around 49 million Americans suffer from hunger or “food insecurity.” However, the House of Representatives approved a plan last month to cut nearly $ 40 billion dollars worth of food stamps. Free school meals for 210,000 children will also be eliminated. Feeding America ‘s CEO Bob Aiken says , “These cuts to SNAP combined with the scheduled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) cuts to the programscheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1, 2013will result in the loss of about 3.4 billion meals provided to low-income Americans in 2014. That is more meals that the entire Feeding America Network of 200 food banks distributed through 61,000 food pantries and soup kitchens in 2013.” According to Feeding America , “76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person.” Around “90% of SNAP benefits are redeemed by the third week of the month,” meaning that families often need extra support from food banks. With cuts to food stamps this need will increase. Food banks will struggle to meet this need. Food stamp cuts will also harm small businesses. The U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) explains that food stamps “create business when they are redeemed at your local food retailer.” USDA adds, “These benefits ripple throughout the economies of the community, State, and Nation.” The impact of food stamp cuts, in a time of economic downturn, will have its own negative ripple effect. Congress is being urged to take action against hunger in America and protect food assistance programs.