End-of-the-Year Donations Will Help Millions at Risk of Hunger
CHICAGO, Dec. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Feeding America today announced that despite recent improvements to the economy, millions of low-income families are still struggling to feed their families as winter sets in and the holidays near.
"Feeding America distributed 3.2 billion meals to 37 million people last year, more food and grocery products than ever before, but significant additional food resources are needed.
We are not reaching everyone who needs help, and many of those we serve now need more food than we currently have to offer," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. "Winter has come early, heating bills are high, and the recent Nov. 1 cut of $5 billion to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for fiscal year 2014, when the ARRA stimulus boost in benefits expired, have made life very hard for many people."
"We want to remind potential donors that Feeding America is a charity that relies almost entirely on donated food and funds to do our work. We are proud to note that we are consistently rated as one of the nation's most efficient charities by Forbes Magazine, Charity Navigator, and other groups that analyze non-profits. Forbes reports that we have an efficiency rating of 98 percent, and Charity Navigator gives us four stars, their highest rating."
"There is an enormous amount of work to do in terms of finding and procuring more food for those we serve. We rescued about 1 billion pounds of fresh produce last year, but we know that there is at least 5 billion more pounds of produce that that currently goes to waste. We also know that although our retail store donation programs have been very successful, there is much more food that can be safely procured and distributed from the grocery industry. To accomplish all of this work will require a large increase infrastructure, capacity and staffing, at both the local and national level. We need significant additional funds to make all of this happen – and there is an urgency here, hungry people cannot wait," Aiken said.
Here is a snapshot of the work of Feeding America today:
The need for food assistance remains high
- Our food banks and the agencies we serve are on the front lines. We see first-hand the impact our nation's struggling economy continues to have. From New York City to the hills of Kentucky, and from the Suburbs of Los Angeles to the farmlands of Oklahoma, millions of people wait in line every day at soup kitchen and food pantries, seeking help to feed their families.
- With prolonged unemployment – more than 7 percent nationally -- many families are scraping by on one salary or reduced hours and wages. The number of people seeking help from our network increased 46% from 2006 to 2010.
- Our food banks have seen declines of 25 percent in deliveries of TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) commodities from the USDA in 2013
Charity can't fill the gap if federal hunger-relief programs endure additional cuts.
- In addition to the $5 billion cuts to the SNAP program on Nov. 1, the U.S. House has passed deep cuts of $39 billion to SNAP, and proposed other potentially harmful policy changes to nutrition programs in the farm bill. The Senate has proposed cuts of $4 billion to SNAP, and the two Houses are currently working to reconcile the bills.
- Any additional cuts to SNAP would be devastating, causing millions of our most vulnerable to see their benefits reduced, or to completely lose their food assistance. Our food banks simply could not make up the lost meals.
- Many or our food banks receive a substantial amount of their food from TEFAP, the USDA's commodities program.
- Unfortunately, The USDA has greatly reduced their purchase of bonus commodities from farmers and agricultural producers, which are provided to Feeding America's food banks nationwide. This has resulted in very significant declines in recent years in the amount of USDA product being made available to our food banks.
- Deliveries of TEFAP commodities fell by 25 percent between FY 2012 and FY 2103.
As Congress makes decisions on spending priorities and deficit reduction, it must safeguard hunger-relief programs and policies that help our nation's most vulnerable citizens and the charities that serve them.
- We agree that tough budget choices must be made to reduce the deficit, but we should do this by cutting programs and policies that don't work or aren't essential, not those for which there is tremendous need and which have proven themselves to be highly targeted and effective, like SNAP, TEFAP, and other nutrition assistance programs.
- Washington has had a long-standing, bipartisan commitment to protecting programs serving low-income families in deficit reduction agreements.
"Feeding America is a remarkable effective and efficient charity. Every dollar donated to us can help us provide the equivalent of nine meals to someone living on the brink of hunger. We greatly need to expand our reach and to acquire more food for more people. And that will take significant funding," Aiken said.
About Feeding America
Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.
SOURCE Feeding America