Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The care and feeding of our human family

With Thanksgiving little more than a week away, many of us are preparing for the meal we like best. My husband, for example. He swears he could eat the traditional American Thanksgiving meal every day of the year without getting tired of it. Since I tend to cook mostly Mexican and Guatemalan dishes for special occasions I’ve had to promise that, yes, I’ll roast the turkey instead of putting it into a Puebla-style mole, and indeed, I will include mashed potatoes on the night’s menu, along with the acorn squash from our garden.

This year, for many Americans, the questions will be less about what they will serve, but whether there will be enough to serve. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13 million U.S. households did not have enough food at some point in 2007. Of those households with the lowest “food security:” 98 percent worried that food would run out; 96 percent included adults who cut down or skipped meals, and 29 percent included adults who had not eaten anything in a full day.

This month, the U.S.D.A. released shocking figures for 2008: 36.2 million Americans, including 12.4 million children, are now “food insecure.” The U.S.D.A. expects that the overall cost of food will have increased 4 percent by the end of this year. The cost of individual products such as cheese will have risen 14.5 percent this year, eggs 16.3 percent and bread 17.3 percent.

Staff from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Nutritional Development Services – which stocks local emergency food cupboards -- told the Catholic Standard & Times back in September that they had seen an increase in use of food cupboards, and a decrease in donations. Today, Philabundance, one of the region’s largest hunger relief organizations, sent out a release stating that it is “experiencing a serious shortage of food.” Donations have decreased by 31.2 percent – the equivalent of 4 million pounds of food.

“Everywhere we turn, there are stories about the rising unemployment rate, the number of people in danger of losing their homes, and the anticipated jump this year in home heating costs,” said Bill Clark executive director and president of Philabundance. “And then there’s the ‘sticker shock’ we all experience at the end of the grocery check-out line. None of us are immune to the effects of our faltering economy.

“The fact that most of us are carefully weighing whether we really need that item that we’re considering buying serves as a reminder to me – and all of us here at Philabundance – just how much more serious life’s choices have become for our neighbors who were already struggling, or even just getting by,” Clark said. “The need has increased as we see that families who in the past have been able to provide for their own are now looking for help.”

Philabundance is asking organizations and individuals to plan food drives and to donate non-perishable foods. Call 215-339-0900 or visit the web site at for more information.

You can also contribute money to Nutritional Development Services for purchase of food for the emergency food cupboards it stocks throughout the five counties of the Archdiocese. Call 215-587-2468 or visit the web site at for more information.

If you wish to contribute to a local food cupboard directly, milk, cheese, cereals, peanut butter, jelly, canned tuna and soups are always in high demand.

1 comment:

  1. There's a contest at and if jingle #6 wins, it'll mean $100,000 worth of tuna for Philabundance. So tell everyone to visit the website and vote three times daily every day 'til 12/9. Philly can still come from behind to win, if we all vote! Now that's an easy way to make a big difference.

    Cindy Clark


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