Whether government or non-profit, free food programs have proliferated in the past several years. Everybody’s getting into the act. Churches, government agencies, local governments, local service clubs… all responding to and/or creating the hype.
Food bank directors moan about the increase in demand they are facing. Studies on “hunger” and “food insecurity” have been published. Newspapers, responding to government PR efforts, publicise local free breakfasts and lunches at school locations in the summer for ANYBODY, and they stress “anybody.”
Never has the subject been so politicized. Multnomah Food Initiative from Multnomah county even put on a Food Summit in Portland last month, aiming to “creat[e] a healthy, equitable and prosperous local food system.” You will be happy, but not surprised, to learn that the Summit produced an Action Plan after looking at the following list:
• Oregon is ranked second in hunger by the US Department of Agriculture [Based on a survey that asked something like, "Have you been hungry at any time this month?"] •About 36,000 people in Multnomah County access emergency food boxes each month.
• About 30% of Multnomah County children receive food through the SNAP [Food Stamps] food assistance program.
That info is feeding into a national effort, known as Hunger in America. Here is some of their information:
* The 2010 study showed a 27 percent increase over numbers reported in Hunger in America 2006, which reported that 4.5 million people were served each week.
* 76 percent (10 million) of client households served are food insecure, meaning they do not always know where they will find their next meal. [Like they expect the food to just show up.]
* 36 percent of these client households are experiencing food insecurity with hunger, meaning they are sometimes completely without a source of food. [Permit us to say that here in the United States: THAT IS COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE. Or does this mean that they look in the kitchen cupboard and say, "Huh. No food."]
* 41 percent of client households are receiving SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits, an increase of 64 percent over 2006. [Government math. That's waaay more than the numbers reported just three points above.]
Ending hunger – an original objective looks more and more like a footnote, or afterthought. More people are getting more free food all the time. More people are listed as unemployed and underwater on their mortgages. Are these folks better off than they were before these programs started? Doesn’t look like it!
So the answer to the question posed in the title is: NO! It doesn’t help them, it traps them in a web of dependency. But don’t listen to IFO. Here’s a video [WARNING: graphic images and language] by a singer who knows what she’s talkin’ about.