Tuesday, March 17, 2009

US Food Banks Stretched To The Limit

Due to the economic turndown and high demand food banks across America are being stretched to the limit

By Allen Bacon, Editor, The Daily Bosco

You can see the signs everywhere that things are offsides economically. Many people I talk to are flat out worried. Layoffs, foreclosures...a very tentative attitude toward spending. When Salvation Army and Goodwill are now becoming the store of choice for clothes and home items something is amiss.

But nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to wondering where your next meal is coming from. I was in for an eye-opener when I visited a local Food Bank recently.

The Interfaith Food Center which services Whittier and La Mirada in Southern California is stretched almost beyond capacity. The IFC which started in 1983 servicing 30 families is now providing food for over 1000 families a month. Let me repeat that...1000 families...That's shocking. And this is only one town in America. A town in a relatively affluent area of the country. The day I visited, a slow day....a Monday, Director Veronica Hernandez showed me a list that filled the front and back of three sheets of paper...this is people that availed themselves of the valuable service.

What's making it hard is that there is a strain on the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. It's the old supply and demand. Too much demand now is taking away some of the supply from the local agencies.

In Whittier, one of the major supermarkets decided to not give their surplus to the IFC without a reasonable explanation, making things even harder. Fortunately, private donations, support from most of the area supermarkets, and the LA Regional Food Bank along with an extremely hard-working group of volunteers that is comprised of most religious faiths in Whittier is making a difference.

But there is always room for more help. If you can help, check to see the volunteer opportunities for the food banks that service your city or town.

Here's a couple of ideas for agencies to support from this area: The Interfaith Food Center of Whittier and La Mirada. Call them at 562.903.1478 to see what opportunities exist to help....Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Services can be contacted at 714.680.3691. Any time, money and donations would be greatly appreciated at both centers.

1 comment:

Doug Vehle said...

yeahyeahYou're telling me the IFC usually ISN'T stretched to the limit? Are they a secret foodbank?

The Dubya years wrought the eternal struggle of the food banks saying "Don't forget us." Nobody forgot anything, it was just the people who used to bring food were then showing up to get some. The behavior exhibited is that SOMEONE ELSE is obligated to take up the slack. But that's the whole point, THERE IS NOONE ELSE! Reminds me of the old 'Dinosaurs' TV series, where their answer to the question of extinction is "There'll always be more, that's what more MEANS."

Food banks only work in a good economy. You need many people contributing to every one collecting. When I was working with one in L.A. in the late 80's, once Reagan was out of our misery but George I was creating an unemployment legacy of his own, it was a joke when I'd show up with bags of food. Everything in the place was rifled through quickly. I guess I was theoretically a candidate to be looking for something there myself, and in fact I reached the point I couldn't afford gas to drive up there anymore.

But oh, people would become enraged that we didn't have more for them. There's always more, that's what more means. "I come all the way down here, and that's all I get?" And then there's the demands for money. Not requests, DEMANDS.

Meanwhile, I worked two separate documentaries relating to skid row, and there these people are howling at the soup kitchens when it takes too long to get in.

The effectiveness of the food banks basically ends at the time people begin to insist they're more necessary. When it's no longer limited to the WalMart employee pointed there by the store, (Fullerton Library has 'Nickel and Dimed,' read it.) when the single income family where the guy had his hours at work cut is no longer competing with just the divorced mother whose ex lost his job and therefore the child support stops, it is inevitable that the system will be swamped beyond the ability to adapt. The supply drops arthimetically, but the line grows algebraically. An the fully unemployed increase the demands logrithmically. Yes, I'm a big believer in Thomas Malthus.

While I don't think much of Keynes, I do think there's a way to use the resource effectively. What do people spend when they take food to the IFC? What coult that be spent on to employ people, instead?

Right now, Alcoa in Fullerton is in I think it's SECOND DECADE of hovering at 150 unfillable openings for machinists. Benefits, job security, and over $30k a year to start. But these people who claim they're ready to work are unwilling to attend the free ROP training to take up the career.

Then there's Northrop/Grummna, failing to find enough ENTRY LEVEL composities assemblers to put together airframes for the F18 and F22, but the unemployed are too busy standing in line for the free stuff to take the 72 hour training course at Cerritos College, with virtual guaranteed hiring at $30k a year with benefits, etc. I tell the guy at the AM/PM he should be doing this and let someone else work at the store, but instead he goes on complaining about his $18k job.

All these jobs will go unfilled, while the people who should be filling them howl at the food banks, who in turn howl at the rest of us. Excuse me, this doesn't work, and I'm done being sucked into things that don't work.

But our government isn't. I was HOPING Obama would show some integrity and bank up his campaign rhetoric by vetoing you-know-what bill and telling them to pass it again WITHOUT the crap in it, but he didn't. Instead he TALKED about preventing it again. Should be a promise broken on the Obameter, but I've noticed they cut him far too much slack.

Meanwhile, we have to pay for more 'Hair of the dog that bit me,' in the form of fueling the depression that economic stimulus created with MORE economic stimulus.

This is only going to insure there'll be mre unemployment. And more people standing in line at the food banks. And there'll always be more, that's what more means.

This would be a good time to shut down the foodbanks. Or at least limit deliveries to the regulars. That would help make others RECEPTIVE to real solutions. Of course that would cause more sqwaking. Because THAT is what more means.


"And when I ask them 'How much should I give?'
"The only answer is 'More, more MORE. . . .'"
-John Fogarty,
'Fortunate Son'