Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Foodbank Experience

[This is a re-print from a year ago, updated somewhat - UC]

Have you ever been to a foodbank?

This is part one of a multi part series. It's just about the scope and scale of the problem.

I was recently fortunate enough to have an inside tour of the foodbank in Lincoln Nebraska. Jennifer Bauman is the Agency coordinator there and took me through how the whole operation works.

And did you catch that one piece of irony? Hunger is worse in the summer for kids, since they can't get at least one meal from school. In some of the richest farmland, in one of the richest countries on the planet, kids go hungry.

In reviewing some of the written materials I received on that visit, some further facts:

  • It was 2.79 million pounds of food that the Lincoln Foodbank distributed through agencies in 2006
  • They're gearing up for over 3 million in 2007
  • There has not been a year that the demand for services has ever gone down
  • When several Directors of the larger distributing agencies were asked, none of them felt the total Community need was being met. If funding and space were not issues, they could grow their distribution double digits percentage-wise every year.

There are over 200 programs that serve the Lincoln area. Keep in mind now that the Lincoln Foodbank is one of the smallest in the country. You can now start extrapolating the problem. It's in the multiple millions, and the Hunger in America Study 2006 really drills down into the picture.

[Why do I post this at this time? It's the Farm Bill. It's up for reauthorization this summer. It's the umbrella where we'll show resolve as a people for Hunger issues. Food Stamps are part of it, as well as a huge opportunity for Corporate Farming and Fast Food to try and put their hands in the trough. More on that in a further section of this series. ]

As it turns out, Mike Johanns quit as Ag. Secretary to run for Senate in Nebraska. The Bill, which had lousy stewardship throughout, had even lousier stewardship after that. Suffice it to say, it was a lousy bill that got passed. And kids are still worse off in the summer as far as hunger is concerned. This summer I'll bet even more than last summer given the economic detrioration, hardest felt in rural areas.

If you have a food bank in your area, they'll appreciate anything you can push their way.