16 March 2011

The rising price of food

I had a different post in draft for today - two, in fact - then I saw a link to an article that noted we're seeing the "biggest jump in food costs in more than 36 years." I found out about the article from a link that Foodshare posted; they are the largest food pantry system here. I've already noted how I vounteer at one of their mobile distribution trucks every four weeks.

This steep rise in food prices affects people in two ways. One, it is harder for them to afford to buy food, whether with money or SNAP or WIC or whatever they manage. Second, it is harder for food pantries to get the food they need, because donations drop, and when they need to buy food the money doesn't stretch as far.

One person, posting on a friend's comment about the rising cost of food, suggested that people plant gardens. That works for some, not for all. Not everybody has space they can garden. There are programs that encourage gardening in the city, by children and to donate the crops to food pantries. Some towns rent space to people who want to garden and can't do it near their home - maybe they live in apartments, or condos, and have no yard. This should help, if people can do it, because the steepest rise in costs was for vegetables.

But if all food gets more expensive, and less accessible to the people who need it, what then? We need to do what we can, whether it's donate to a local food pantry, help distribute food, or prepare and serve meals at a soup kitchen. But we also need our legislators to understand how difficult it can be to provide nourishing, well-balanced food to people on $3 a day in the USA.

I've had some people ask whether my health will be in danger if I continue with the limited pantry I have. Maybe over time, although for now I seem to be doing OK. I definitely crave fruit in any form - the two apples a day are nothing like my usual ration. I still take my vitamins, and I am monitoring myself for any signs of trouble. But if you're worried about me eating this menu for a week - think of the people who have to eat on $3, or less, a day for months. It's no surprise that low-income persons have a higher rate of illness than other income groups. And it should be no surprise that this has been reported for years.

I know that I alone can't solve the problem. But I do what I can to help. Eating on $3 a day may not seem like a great contribution to fight hunger - but donating the difference between my $3 a day this week, and what I usually spend on food in a week, can help.

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