Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Belt tightening at Thanksgiving

"When an economist says a recession is over is different from when a hungry family says it's over," said John Hornbeck of Episcopal Community Services, one of many food assistance providers to hungry Kansas City area residents.

That shows up a lot right now, as supermarket Thanksgiving grocery ads hit our driveways. At least one store offers turkeys at 40 cents a pound with a $25 purchase. Another throws in a free turkey if you buy a featured ham.

Those are good deals, better than a year ago, the American Farm Bureau correctly reports, but the offerings might as well be Beluga caviar as far as many of some 17 million hungry households are concerned. Those are the ones that the U.S. Agriculture Department calculates experienced what delicately is called food insecurity last year.

Hunger is a noticeably growing problem in many suburbs once thought impervious to the problem, reports Newsweek. Count Johnson County, KS, home of the statistically not shabby 19th highest household incomes in the U.S., among them, says Linda Rogers of Johnson County Human Services. Requests for food assistance are up maybe a third from a year ago as more white collar severance packages run out before people find jobs, she said.

"There is a direct connection between rising unemployment and requests for food assistance," said Karen Heren, chief executive of the Harvesters Community Food Network in Kansas City. She's shopping for what's budgeted to be $4 million in additional food purchases to supplement donations.

"Two words that really scare us are 'jobless recovery' " Heren said. "This time last year, our shelves were bare."

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