Friday, December 21, 2012

More Pennsylvanians Having Trouble Answering the Dinner Bell

 A just released report on hunger shows the number of people seeking food assistance in Pennsylvania's largest city is up 41 percent in the past year. 

The study from the U.S. Conference of Mayors took data from a number of survey cities including Philadelphia. 

Carey Morgan, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, says that kind of increase points to a systemic problem. She says it will never be solved as long as food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is targeted for cuts in Congress.

"You can't make budget decisions on the backs of the poor. You have to take into account that these are human lives, that people need to eat, and they can't wait for the budget crisis to be solved in order to do that."

The report points out that food pantries and emergency kitchens across the city had to turn people away or reduce the amount of food each person received. Morgan says polling data released by the Food Research and Action Center earlier this year shows that 75 percent of Americans think that cutting SNAP is the wrong way to reduce government spending.

Morgan says, as it stands, SNAP benefits only last about three weeks per month for most recipients. That alone, she adds, is an argument against reductions in funding.

"As we see more programs and public benefits getting cut, the force of that is being thrust on the emergency food programs."

Morgan says with donations to those programs down considerably, they're not equipped to feed people for extended periods at a time.

She contends the key to reducing hunger is a re-dedication of resources.

"We as a constituency and as American citizens really have to speak up and say that this is an unacceptable situation, that increases in hunger from year to year should no longer be a part of the American fabric."

Tom Joseph

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