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Savage inequalities


Are chowhounders affected by food insecurity? Do chowhounders care about this issue?

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  1. Yes and yes. We've gone to a one income household (my 3 jobs) after my H's stroke, and we've had to eliminate a lot of less expensive foods (pasta, rice, beans) because he's a Type 2 diabetic. Keeping meals satisfying and healthy is a challenge for me. But we're luckier than some in that I have work, so we try to give/volunteer at our local food pantry as much as we can.
    How about you, nasilemak?
    By the way, I found the comments beneath the article to be fascinating.

    25 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      Good for you for thinking about the less fortunate. I personally find it hard to justify making big splurges on meals in light of disturbing reports like this.

      1. re: nasilemak

        Nasilemak, if we eliminated occasional cheer from our lives because of every injustice in the world, we should just as soon take a flying leap off a bridge and end it. Do what you can, when you can, be judicious with your dollars and your votes, but by all means, live with joy.

        1. re: pinehurst

          Yes, i enjoy and value good food and creative cuisine like everyone else, but within reasonable means which is of course a relative thing. For me, splurging well over a hundred bucks per person on a meal seems pretty excessive to me.

          1. re: nasilemak

            Then you should avoid doing so. Donate it instead if you have it.

            1. re: nasilemak

              So is the cut-off amount $100 per person? $80? $50? Can one offset it by making a donation (I gave $20 to a soup kitchen, therefore I can have a $120 meal tonight)? What about other "splurges"? Should I not have a nice house/car/vacation/clothes because others are hungry? You are correct in that it is all relative, therefore we can't judge anyone else on what they do or do not spend. CH'ers seem to be a pretty generous bunch and more knowledgable than most on the value of their donations to food banks and such. I hope no one is suggesting that because we visit this site to discuss cuts of beef and fancy restaurants that we don't care.

              1. re: nasilemak

                I have limits, not hard and fast, on what I'm comfortable spending in restaurants. But THAT has nothing to do with people in this country going hungry. THAT has to do with my personal financial comfort zone. I guess I still don't see how one relates to the other.

              2. re: pinehurst

                Absolutely, live with joy. I think I'll tattoo that on my arm!

                Most people who have experienced difficulty of any kind will tell you that they want their situation to be temporary. A time in their life they'd like to move past. There aren't too many people (including the very wealthy) who haven't experienced financial insecurity of one type or another. Just some longer than others.

                But, if we didn't have inequalities who would be in the position to help those who need it NOW?

                The stats of charity tell us that middle income folks give more then the wealthy. That's community working together. However the mega rich build and maintain the buildings we donate our food stuffs too. So tell me where is the disconnect? We can all do our part but there will never been a time of equality or a time when charity work will dry up.

                1. re: HillJ

                  "The stats of charity tell us that middle income folks give more then the wealthy. "

                  As a percentage of income. What's pretty amazing is that's true even though for the past couple of decades, the middle class has become poorer and the wealthiest have a much bigger piece of the pie.

                  1. re: mcf

                    All true and yes a big surprise to everyone who follows the money. But, that doesn't change the "other" reality that the wealthy build the art centers, keep the host bldgs maintained for non profits and contribute millions to npo's each year.

                    So a $10.00 a txt has significant impact multiplied across the globe. And, $10 million keeps an infrastructure in place.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Lets not forget that as many of the wealthiest people get older they donate very large percentages of their wealth to NPO's and in death leave the rest to NPO's. These numbers have reached into the Billions.

                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                          And, don't forget that each year each state goes through an audit process to access the financial health of npo's that have not filed any 990's with the IRS; especially foundations. And what the auditors discover is how many foundations are empty of funds.

                          Follow the money that supports your favorite charity and then decide how you want to contribute. Sometimes giving your TIME is more valuable.

                        2. re: Tom34

                          If you're following my train of thought, you'll read that I not only haven't forgotten the wealthiest citizens but I've endorsed their contributions to this issue over and over.

                          We can also be inspired by the school teacher, bus driver and janitor who spent their whole lives saving only to leave their millions to their elementary school or city park.

                          So yes-research & discover who the charitable are..and then be inspired to follow suit!

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I have been following your train of thought and I think unlike many, you have been fully inclusive, very fair and quite accurate.

                            1. re: Tom34

                              I have some incredible generous mentors to thank for that.

                          2. re: Tom34

                            That doesn't really change the fact that most of the wealth has been concentrated among a smaller and smaller percentage as middle class status has stagnated or declined overall.

                            Most of it is passed down to heirs.

                            And that's just the money we can account for; the wealthiest have it stashed all over the globe, evading scrutiny and taxes.

                            1. re: mcf

                              "Middle class in decline".............The middle class in the US was largely created by the need to rebuild the World after WWII. Since the US was the only major industrial nation that still had a fully functioning industrial infrastructure, the job was largely ours and the standard of living for the average worker reached levels most never dreamed of. Unfortunately, the rebuilding was a double edged sword and we are now in a global economy for which we are increasingly unable to compete and our unprecedented lifestyles are becoming unsustainable. Most economists place the turning point around 1970.

                              1. re: Tom34

                                We are way off topic in this discussion. I'll agree to disagree about the various contributions to this phenomenon.

                          3. re: HillJ

                            Okay, that was kind of my point, that real dollars come overwhelmingly from those also less generous in relation to their wealth.

                            It feels as though you are arguing points I haven't made.

                            1. re: mcf

                              Who's arguing points? I'm underlining the balance that exists. In charity the idea of inequality is part of the misnomers, mcf.

                              If I'm not clear..all contributions matter. The big picture, the day to day operation get their funding from diff sources at diff times in the life cycle of a non profit operation.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Folks, all of this is getting way far afield from anything to do with food. We'd ask that you let this part of the discussion go. Thanks!

                    2. re: nasilemak

                      I don't.

                      I volunteer and donate often and generously to hunger relief.

                      And I care about my health, enjoyment and the quality of food I eat.

                      Shopping and eating out support a lot of jobs held by folks with hunger problems (I hate that stupid "food insecure" jargon), people are *hungry* and *malnourished*. I think that's stronger and more accurate language.

                      I don't see how my pulling dollars out of a part of the economy supporting jobs that are held or attainable by many at risk folks will help them. A strong economy lifts all boats, and in the U.S., personal spending makes a huge contribution.

                      1. re: nasilemak

                        I'd suggest that unless you're taking the money that you're not spending and donating to hunger-aid programs, then what's accomplished?

                      2. re: pinehurst

                        Over the years, I have lost my business, my marriage, and spent my investments. I still live pretty darn good on the $750 per month I currently earn. Would love a minimum wage job.

                        I know how to double or triple my purchases based on time of week and buying seasonal. Scratch and dent produce is a mainstay. Living on a boat without a fridge, I do not give in to buying 5 gallons of mayo at Sam's, or the 1 kilo blocks of imported cheese at B.J.'s. I eat out more often now then back in the good old days. And am back to playing golf. Nobody telling me it is a waste of money.

                        Do I want anybody's pity or charity? No. Do I care about other people in my community? Depends. There is/was a community service in the U.S. Army that would loan money for unforseen emergencies or drowning in debt. I knew the lady that ran it at one Army base. She would have them empty their pockets and purses, and then search their car. Alcohol or tobacco and you were instantly denied. Should your give up your electronic devices before giving up food? I use library PCs which is why my participation here is so spotty.

                        And due to the church and social services in my area with professionals donating dental, medical, and daily meals, you may lose weight, but you will not starve except by choice. That includes the children who get subsidized meals at school. We have a non-profit that takes care of them through the summer.

                        This from a part of the state that is a TEA Party and conservative stronghold. So there goes that stereotype.

                      3. USA has the fattest poor people in history. Peeps may be malnourished from poor food choices, but nobody dies of starvation here.

                        22 Replies
                        1. re: mwhitmore

                          That's totally untrue. The poor have the distinction of being obese while severely malnourished. Not due to poor choices alone, but due to the fact that fattening, non nourishing food is both cheapest and most available.

                          If you've ever spent as much time as I have volunteering in a food bank or visiting soup kitchens, they mostly have fattening, starchy, sugary foods.

                          I always make a point of donating proteins, but it's a drop in the ocean.

                          Many of the poorest have no cooking facilities.

                          That's not a choice.

                          1. re: mcf

                            So true about food pantries. Once in a while, you'll see a jar of peanut butter, but canned tuna, salmon, mackerel, or soy beans are all very scarce. Huge bags of rice and huge boxes of corn cereals are plentiful.

                            1. re: pinehurst

                              Yes, pasta, rice, crackers, cereal, canned fruit, juices.

                              I always go to Costco and buy cans of tuna, salmon, even that canned chicken stuff, beans, PB.

                              Some food banks can store frozen poultry, which can be very cheap on sale, too.

                              1. re: mcf

                                I think that's awesome. So creative.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Whenever I shop for the food pantry, I love to "make" a meal in my head with the stuff I'm getting, and am half tempted to throw in a recipe card. I just assume that people who need the food pantry also want tasty food (I'm pretty sure my tastes wouldn't change very quickly if I found myself in that situation.) It may be foolish, but I'll throw in stuff like tuna, canned green beans, canned potatoes, and olives, and think "Hey, they can almost make a salade Nicoise with this." At least I hope they can.

                                    1. re: Isolda

                                      I do much the same, planning meals in my head when I shop for food pantry donations. I've taken it a step further and started including recipe cards for quick, easy to prepare meals that use the ingredients I've donated, since I know from experience that time can be as big a factor as money in healthy eating choices and not everyone has the well-outfitted kitchen or the skills I have which help me cut down on time.

                                2. re: mcf

                                  Mwhitmore said, I quote, "nobody dies of starvation here."

                                  There's truth to that. The poor Americans may suffer from the ill effects of bad diet but they aren't dying of starvation for the most part. I won't try to cliam that *no one* dies of starvation in the US as I'm sure there are genuinely malnourished people who, for whatever reason, also don't have access to the food banks.

                                  I've lived overseas in a variety of countries, including Indonesia, and have traveled through many second and third world countries. Many of the *genuinely* poor in those countries have exceedingly limited diets, based on rice/pasta/starch, little vegetables, hardly any meat. Yet somehow they've avoided the obesity problem for the most part.

                                  The poor health of poorer Americans has always been a controversial topic. People will claim it's due to lack of access to healthier food, but that's not necessarily the case. A lot of is simply due to self-preference and a lack of education. Supermarkets in poor urban neighborhoods will tell you that fresh produce simply doesn't move anywhere as quickly as in more affluent areas. I've volunteered in food banks before and have heard the same: food that we deem "healthier" stays on the shelves much longer than the starchier, unhealthier food.

                                  1. re: Roland Parker

                                    Don't exclude the cost of produce in supermarkets. Ethnic and discount markets selling produce at lower prices find an audience in poor urban neighborhoods...and the middle to upper middle class who know a bargain when they see one.

                                    What you consume (on any budget, on any continent) is where obesity reins.

                                    People can die of neglect.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Not to mention the usurious prices in the supermarkets that typically specialize in "poor urban neighborhoods" with no competition for those meager dollars.

                                  2. re: mcf

                                    I've posted this before on other threads, but I think it always bears repeating. Every food bank I've volunteered with or read about prefers cash donations. They can get far more food with $1 than we can buy at the grocery store. Donating food is great, donating the same amount in cash is even better.

                                    For years my local food back struggled to distribute fresh produce and meat. They were getting lots of donations of seconds from local farms, but didn't have a way to store perishable items. Cash donations helped them buy a walk in freezer a refrigerator. Now they can accept the massive post-holiday frozen turkey donation, and distribute them as needed for months.

                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                      Thanks. I've probably read your earlier posts. For some reason, there's a warm and fuzzy thing about giving canned goods that green paper money doesn't seem to conjure up. I wish more people would consider that.

                                      1. re: mpjmph

                                        That isn't true of my local, regional food bank, but it may be true of smaller operations, with less warehouse space, staff and fewer trucks. In fact, they've set up satellite locations and even mobile food distribution vehicles to get that stuff out there where there is the most need more efficiently.

                                        As I've said before, I donate both food and dollars. And I don't donate the cheap, starch and sugary crap that they buy or get (from participating supermarket corporations) as donations by the pallet.

                                        I think the important thing here, as HillJ and I have emphasized, is to know the charity well before giving it anything.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          Spot on, mcf! It's all about researching what works best for your area. When I write a check, I'm doing so as a local fundraiser. In the last ten years, I've donated handmade quilts for raffle, weekends @ my BnB at silent auctions and donated my workshop fees in lieu of payment. I like to write a 'big' check; one that represents the contributions of say 50-100 people. So, what I do is offer fundraising skills.

                                          Twice a year, I call a corporation and ask for a large inkind donation of goods to be freighted to my county food bank. I pay the shipping, they donate the goods.

                                          Lots of ways to get involved and be creative in the process.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            You raise a point I haven't addressed at all. I worked for years w/ the events coordinator and took a lot of responsibility for silent auctions, from donating items to soliciting them, packaging them and coordinating wrapping and delivery to venues.

                                            Between donating, bidding, coordinating as a volunteer before and at events, sending money and bringing food, the charity gets support. Some folks can't afford to donate dollars, but they do valuable office and other work for free.

                                            Charities need it all.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              Event coordinator was a fortunate staffer. Time givers have as much if not more value. And the hour wage placed on time giving volunteers in grant apps is utilized in countless ways. Concrete value is actually calculated:

                                              Clearly you know how much effort goes into events and fundraising campaigns.

                                              I enjoy it.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                Yes, though more through my volunteer activity than my own time running a npo.

                                                Organizations have to show that they make strong efforts to utilize various resources and income streams when writing grant apps.

                                                I enjoyed it a LOT more when working with an extraordinary, very young 20 something special events coordinator. We really did it UP.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  I'm surprised when volunteers don't realize their time has value (literally) placed upon it. This type of validation to volunteer engagement is crucial...and for many volunteers makes their time giving a viable option.

                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    Definitely. I was the business manager for a while at a country library system in a small town. We kept scrupulous records of our volunteers' and it was a definite line item in grant applications. So it's "just" the work they do (which is huge) but also how that can get parlayed into green. I just read that our local food bank just got a $75k grant from Walmart.

                                          2. re: mcf

                                            My local food bank is actually one of the largest in the country, with 6 warehouses, and serves 500,000 people each year. And they still prefer cash. Most of the food donations are rice and pasta. They use the cash donations to improve infrastructure, and to buy meat and fresh produce. So really, we're arguing the same side here. What it really boils down to is what each organization needs. I just know that they don't need more Campbell's, Chefboyardee, or canned green beans, which is what most people are donating.

                                            1. re: mpjmph

                                              We sure agree about food it preferable. One of the really useful organizations in this area is called Island Harvest: they pick up surplus fresh foods from commercial kitchens, hospitals, restaurants, stores as I recall their beginnings. You'll also see how much emphasis they place on food donations, to capture what's free for the taking and delivering, along with funds and volunteerism. This is not the organization I volunteered for, but one I admire: http://www.islandharvest.org/page.asp...

                                      2. re: mwhitmore

                                        We may not have people dying of starvation in great numbers, but we definitely have people dying from poor nutrition. Not to mention lost work and productivity from diet related diseases.

                                      3. There are very effective PSAs where I live promoting food banks. The statistics of those who are battling hunger, and I agree that "food insecurity" term if BS and minimizes what's happening, is real and large. Just recently I started a monthly donation to our local food bank. It's not very much money but when you realize they can provide multiple meals for every dollar donated, my small contribution matters. And, no, why should I feel guilty when I go out to a nice restaurant. As others mentioned, those places provide jobs for people. In addition, how can my going out deprive anyone of food? I don't see any dot connectability here.

                                        38 Replies
                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          A cash donation to a food bank, no matter how much, is huge, c oliver, in the good it does.

                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                            It can do a lot more than donating food which, let's face it, is a matter of donating things that we don't want to eat. I believe it was last Saturday that the post office collected bags from our homes with food donations in them. I really did try to NOT do that this time. A can of tomatoes, a can of chicken broth, tuna, etc. And, honestly, that monthly donation is painless. It's set up as an automatic debit from my checking account.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              " It can do a lot more than donating food which, let's face it, is a matter of donating things that we don't want to eat."

                                              I don't think so; I mean, yeah, there is a problem, especially with that post office collection, of folks putting expired or less than desirable food out.

                                              But a lot of folks have a habit of buying a little extra regularly or making donations like mine.

                                              And cash donations get comingled, cover overhead costs, too. Which good organizations need, but it's not all food dollars.

                                              Food banks need all kinds of donations, and if you donate food items like proteins, you know that's not what the food bank is mostly going to buy, it's too expensive.

                                              It's all good.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                Excellent points and I should have thought more before I wrote.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  And I don't want to discourage anyone from donating dollars the way you do, with regular, not holiday support to food banks.

                                                  I send money more often than I buy food, too.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    I wish all grocery stores, all the time, had bins at the checkstands. As you mention, holiday support is easy to come by but year round the need is there.

                                                    Food-related, I discovered Operation Barbeque Relief http://www.operationbbqrelief.org/ which deploys to places like Moore, OK. They had a wish list on Amazon. Super easy to buy them a couple of racks to hold disposable gloves. The need is endless and the ways to give are also.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      <I wish all grocery stores, all the time, had bins at the checkstands. As you mention, holiday support is easy to come by but year round the need is there.>

                                                      YES!!! It's a simple, smart idea

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Do you actually know that organization, as worthy? Can't find out much about them from that link. Not rated on charitynavigator.org. I see that they have some news coverage and provide food in several instances, but no way to know what % of contributions goes to salaries and how much to feeding folks.

                                                        I think a donation bin at the end of the register year round is a GREAT idea.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          I don't have concrete info but here's an article:


                                                          It appears there are no salaries. All of them are competitive barbequers who got this idea two years ago. They just go where they're needed. But you're right. To be 100% sure, there should/could be more info.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              It sounds great, but I got sucked into monthly donations to modestneeds.org and am totally leery until I see financial reports posted on an organizational web site, IRS filings, etc.
                                                              And independent reviews.

                                                              I don't donate to the Red Cross, ever, either. No centralized oversight and they fund raise like crazy in the name of a particular tragedy, but hold money back.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                Excellent points. We give to our food bank and also to Heifer Intl and I only did that one after Sam Fujisaka 'blessed' it.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  Thanks. I saw that. Since they only started two years ago and the donations seem modest, is their reporting to the IRS (or the fact that it appears that they haven't) constitute a question mark in your mind?

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    No it does not. After application, a 501c3 is put on a five year probation period under the guidelines of the IRS designation in order to raise funds and determine if they will remain a public charity. If after five years they raise enough to warrant tax exemption they are given a formal designation.

                                                                    Coupled with the monetary levels of annual 990 filing, it is not unusual at all for a start up to take time to grow.

                                                                    I should also mention that Joe Public must also register with Guide Star to see the full history (every page) of a charity file (public record). So, if you don't have an account with GStar, you aren't seeing all the data.

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      Oh goody :) I'm glad I "bought" those holders for the disposable gloves! I really appreciate your taking the time to educate us about this. Thanks again.

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        No problem, co. I've taken enough npo management courses to know the details. My Fed days (career #1) required it.

                                                              2. re: mcf

                                                                Just a brief bit about Charity Navigator. It is the charities/npo's that supply the information to CNav not the other way around.

                                                                If you want a to do your homework before donating to any registered npo use Guide Star.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  But some don't provide any. That's a red flag for me. I do use more than one, and I think I came across that when researching. Good advice.

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    That's because the charity has to agree to be registered on the CN site. They sign an agreement and even though all public charities should be avail thru public records not all are. Some fall under an annual dollar amt that makes them only responsible for e-filing which means their 990 won't be in the record.

                                                                    Best policy for a consumer to feel comfortable with a public charity is to ask them for a copy of their 990 or end of the year report and then make the choice.

                                                                    Any public charity worthy of donations (inkind or $) would be happy to share public records. It's one form they should have on file.

                                                                    But hundreds of federally exempt 501c3's raise far below the requirement of a 990 filing and that doesn't mean they aren't worthy of support or that a CN or Guide Star listing provides some guarantee.

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      I don't think I ever suggested that anything is a guarantee. What I said was that the bbq charity had scant information on their site and elsewhere and that raises a red flag for me.

                                                                      Choosing not to put info on CN is a red flag, since it is the most widely recognized.

                                                                      I want to see annual reports on org. sites, too.

                                                                      If I don't, there are plenty I can donate to who do, there's lots of need everywhere.

                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                        No you didn't suggest that at all but if anyone reading along believes that a site like CN is researching charities and not just uploading what is provided by the actual charity they would be mistaken. It's not a red flag. Some charities do not want their board members info on the Internet. Some charities wouldn't qualify to fill out a form because their annual donations are below the requirement of 990 filing (& they e-postcard file to the IRS). My point is that if the charity isn't registered with CN or others that it is not a red flag. And, there will always be plenty of charities that need us. The ones that need us most usually fall way below the radar of CN and even Guidestar by no fault of their own.

                                                                        Plenty of charities that have disappointed the public can be found on CN too.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          HillJ, you explained that so well and I appreciate it. And I apologize if I caused this to go OT. Maybe we can get back to the OPs question?

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              Nope. We all go a little 'off' at times :)

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            I discovered the disqualifying problems with Modest Needs on CN, that was kind of my point.

                                                                            If I can find voluntary disclosure vs. none, the one providing none gets red flagged by me unless I have personal knowledge of its operations. Your standard may differ.

                                                                            I'm a former npo administrator.

                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                              Then you know just asking the charity for their financials, end of the year report, or a visit to the charity (if possible) is super simple. I don't need to preach to the choir :)

                                                                              But the general public either doesn't think to ask or is unwilling to ask. Public records only get you so far anyway. What's asked on a 990 is far less telling then just getting familiar with a charity directly.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                Yes, I'm very aware that there is little fiduciary responsibility too often, and one is up to one's own conscience, which is in short supply, IME.

                                                                                That's why I'm so leery.

                                                                                I make every effort to know the charities I donate to very well. That means a lot of them are on the small size, or well known to me over many years.

                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                  That's awesome, mcf. Maybe your example will have a ripple for others. I tell my clan all the time, volunteer first then donate. Visit their field work, then donate. Sit on a committee or board, then donate. If you really want to follow your donation dollar get your feet wet then your checkbook handy.

                                                                                  It's really that simple.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    Some that I cannot know well, I still feel comfortable donating to, large ones like Heifer, Doctors Without Borders and Habitat for Humanity, though not my local chapter, due to less than ideal financial disclosures.

                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                      Knowing a specific national charity does come down to also knowing the specific local chapter-always. And the "home office" 990 doesn't break down the indv. chapters financials well enough, so yes-you are so right on that it is vital to know your local npo.

                                                                                      Here's what I do, I make an appt to meet the Board. I sit in on a board meeting. I find that is very telling.

                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                    The worst time is the summer, when the kids are not in school to receive their free or reduced price breakfasts and lunches, and there aren't the huge food drives you see during the holiday season.

                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                      Many school districts are serving free lunches in various city parks for children up to age 18 to combat this problem

                                                                      1. re: enbell

                                                                        That's great to know. Wonder where they get the money.

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          Valuable support for this program comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Idaho State Department of Education, AmeriCorps VISTA Program and some generous private funders. Including DirectTV, Craig Stein Beverage Group, Fredricksen Health Insurance and Regence BlueShield of Idaho just to name a few.

                                                                        2. re: enbell

                                                                          Best part is its a product that has to be eaten and can't be converted to anything else.

                                                        2. I care about it, but consider it but one aspect of the general problem on increasing inequity in the US economy. A lot of people struggle to get by, and more than used to.

                                                          1. I wonder if this research funded by big oil included surveying the millions of illegals in the US who get up every day and perform jobs that nobody else wants to do and still have $ to send home to their families?

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                              My search led to Pew Charitable Trust on this data:

                                                              Like I said without the mega wealthy there would be no charitable trust.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                I have a relative who became very good friends with J. Howard Pew when he was in charge of building his oil sands operation in Alberta and later went on to head his company.

                                                                J.H.P. was one of the most conservative business men of his time. If he was President, nobody would be hungry or suffering from malnutrition and nobody would be watching daytime TV until full retirement age.

                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                  I'm very comfortable with the Pew Charitable Trust. Their impact on specific donor programs is significant.

                                                            2. Can someone explain to me what is supposedly wrong with food inequality?

                                                              61 Replies
                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                If you don't think there's anything wrong, I doubt anyone can.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  When I hear the phrase, "food inequality," I'd be thinking along the lines of: this person gets to eat steak and lobster every night, that person gets to eat spaghetti and beans every night.

                                                                  That's not the same as starvation, hunger, malnourishment.

                                                                  1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                    So now we know what you think a useless term should mean.

                                                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                      That may have been the case years ago when there were restrictions on what could be purchased with food stamps and other assistance measures. Those restrictions are largely gone now.

                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                        Yes, it's possible to use SNAP benefits to buy lobster and tenderloin, if you don't mind eating only three or four days a month. The idea that the vast majority of SNAP recipients are using them that way is ludicrous. They're feeding their families, and a lot of them are the working poor.

                                                                        1. re: JonParker

                                                                          A lot of them are the working poor and do in fact use the programs as intended. I have friends who work in the social services industry and their conservative estimates are over 25% outright fraud & at least another 25% long term abuse.

                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                            As long as you're including some businesses in that estimate.
                                                                            Retailer compliance is just as big a problem.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              Absolutely, especially small urban retailers who rely on revenue from assistance programs. We sure have come a long way from the WPA & CCC and I think we took a wrong turn, for both those receiving & those paying.

                                                                            2. re: Tom34

                                                                              Your friends are wrong. To start with, "my friends told me" data is less than useless. It simply has no validity. I prefer actual data rather than cocktail hour stories.


                                                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                                                That's a valid point, Jon P. So, why not just follow the actual records directly from SNAP that I provided above for complete program details and eligibility requirements, fraud reporting and such information as it pertains to the whole department; it is the best source.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  What? Did you read the article I linked? It was heavily footnoted, with every assertion leading to official documents. I think it's pretty accurate.

                                                                                  1. re: JonParker

                                                                                    I didn't suggest your link wasn't pulled from portions of the SNAP website, clearly it was. But Tom34, was referring to fraud and I was responding to that comment. The SNAP website addresses fraud, your reference does not in any great detail. What it does do is encourage people in need to apply and supports the very best that SNAP programs intend.

                                                                                    That is what I'm referring to.

                                                                                2. re: JonParker

                                                                                  Thank you a lot for posting this. All of us have a tendency at time to bog down in anecdotes.

                                                                                  1. re: JonParker

                                                                                    Keep in mind who compiles and analysis the data and the number of career government jobs that depend on government programs being cast in the best possible light.

                                                                                    Bottom line is I will take the word of the front line troops in the field (which are the folks I know) before a bunch of politically appointed bureaucrats in the front office.

                                                                                    I think these front line folks with 20 plus years full time experience know a wee bit more than people who volunteer a few times a year at a local food bank.

                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                      OK then. I believe official data, you believe anecdotes. Can't really argue with that.

                                                                                      You might tell your friends that if they are aware of such abuse and are failing to do anything about it, that they're being pretty derelict in performing the job the taxpayers pay them to do.

                                                                                      1. re: JonParker

                                                                                        " I believe the official data" ......Not that long ago millions of people, investment houses & pension fund managers believed the date put out by the Executives at ENRON now didn't they. Anybody who has taken even elementary statistics knows how easily the data can be manipulated.

                                                                                        The abuse is so blatant there have been numerous Senate SubCommittee hearings on the subject over the years but as long as the printing presses continue to run 24 hrs a day pumping out Franklin's its ignored at the highest levels. You really expect grunts on the front line to stop it. I am getting the Ivory Tower vibe!

                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                              Both sides of the isle are in it up to their necks which gives me a sinking feeling when I think about my kid's futures.

                                                                                              This is one of the reasons I believe so strongly in local charities. If your having problems putting the basics on the table and have the facilities to cook, go to the charity pantry and get a box of the basics. If you can't cook it, go to the charity kitchen and get it prepped for you.

                                                                                              The thought of kids going to bed hungry makes me sick. The stories I hear from NJ. DYFS workers are enough to turn your stomach. The resources are there to prevent it, the problem is getting the resources to the KIDS. Unfortunately, the term "parent" doesn't always hold the same meaning it once did.

                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                My Uncle, who works and lives in DC and knows this subject well, would say you can spend a lifetime fighting the good fight or you can focus on care. I spent the early part of my younger working life fighting a good fight and I still "punish" myself by reading the material, staying current and keeping the folks who HAVE the authority in my circles on the hook. But I don't kid myself. So now with my Fed career behind me, I focus on care at the local level (as all of you do) and find far more satisfaction in seeing the impact on a family, an elderly displaced man and woman and in schools.

                                                                                                I've made (some) peace with what I could not accomplish but the fighter in me never rests.

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  "What I could not accomplish" ......any conscientious Government employee in the social services sector is privy to a disturbing reality most private sector people couldn't imagine on their worst day. Knowing you can't help them all and having to play god and choose carries a heavy burden I am sure. As with so many things in life, I tell my kids you are the one that has to be comfortable with what you see in the mirror.

                                                                                                  Both of my girls have friends with severe handicaps and realize how lucky they are that they can run, swim and ride a bike. I hope that they remember these early lessons about the reality of life so when they get older and are able to help those less fortunate than themselves they seek pleasure in doing so.

                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                    When you parent with empathy, you build character. Some may question the purpose of charity but I can't imagine a society without it.

                                                                                            2. re: Tom34

                                                                                              And that's fine. You have your sources, I have mine. I guess the point I'd want to make is that even if SNAP benefits are traded for drugs, in the end the only thing you can do with them is buy food. And I'm in favor of people not going hungry, even drug addicts. And even if 50% of them are engaged in fraud or abuse (numbers I will never believe w/o serious data) I'm still in favor of it. And you can call a Senate Subcommittee for anything from UFOs to commies in the State Dept,, but that doesn't mean that there's any "there" there. It's not evidence of anything other than that you called a committee.

                                                                                              If you want to combat fraud and abuse then do so, but don't enact cuts to a program that not only enables millions of seniors, disabled and working families to have enough to eat because some people take advantage of the system.

                                                                                              Frankly, if abuse was at 99% I'd still be against cuts. Not only is food a basic human need, but SNAP is a great economic stimulator. It benefits not only the poor, but farmers and retailers, and the furniture stores, hair stylists and doctors that the employees of those farmers and retailers spend their wages on.

                                                                                              I'm a volunteer cook for Mobile Meals, who takes hot meals to seniors in their homes. I donate my time and effort and our drivers donate their time and gas. But we are partially funded with federal money, money we can't easily replace. Plus, we don't deliver on weekends or holidays. We're a charity, and we can in no way take over all the nutritional needs of the clients we serve.

                                                                                              In my own small way, I'm on the front lines of dealing with hunger, not in an Ivory Tower. And it's real and happening now. SNAP is one of the least abused anti-poverty programs possible, and it benefits the nation both directly and indirectly. It can't be replaced by private charity, and it can't be replaced by just telling everyone who needs help to just go get a job.

                                                                                              I think there are ways it could be improved -- expanding access to farmer's markets and nutritional education, increasing benefit levels to allow recipients to stop choosing the cheapest processed food available in order to make it through the month, and encouraging supermarkets to locate in low income areas.

                                                                                              My parents were born during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, and my family didn't leave for California. They knew poverty in an era when there was no government assistance and charitable donations had dried up, when plagues of locusts ate the crops and the milk cows died of hunger. Maybe you think that's how things ought to be, but I sure don't.

                                                                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                Your very well thought out remarks remind me (again) just how big a topic this has always been and we will always come to it from a place we have the most exposure. What's happening in one part of the country differs from another; what's happening throughout the large and every changing chain of command coupled with various resource levels has pros and cons every step. But like you said and most of us here have agreed with, at the end of the day no one should go hungry. Programs exist for the purpose of providing.

                                                                                                I just want to add that I found this thread very uplifting. So, thank you one and all for adding so much to the conversation.

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  I agree with the "uplifting" part also. Though it's gotten OT at times and a bit :) I appreciate the loose moderation we've received. It's a wonderful topic for CHs to discuss.

                                                                            3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              It's a bullshit term. If we say "hunger," would you agree that no one should be hungry?

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                As a whole, I think very few people are hungry in the US.

                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                    Thank you. From what I hear and read, there are many people going to bed hungry, having to choose paying bills over buying food, etc.

                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                        And, the Dept of Agri could do a heck of a lot more then pay for such reports don't you think?

                                                                                        World Hunger Educ Service is the
                                                                                        "main library" responsible for distributing information to the public in support of 120 individual state to state food outreach programs in the US. This is where your local information is more beneficial.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  But I don't think hunger is an all-encompassing term to describe every person or family in danger of going without.

                                                                                  And that's why I think "food insecurity" is not a BS term. A family may not have experienced actual hunger, but may be living so close to the edge that an uptick in rent, an accident, losing hours at an hourly job, facing a government furlough, or just not having enough money this week to buy veggies and protein could all lead to the possibility of actual hunger or malnutrition. So even if people in these situations have enough to eat today, they could still be called "food insecure."

                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                    That's called poverty. Or low income. We don't need a new name for it. We know those folks are living hand to mouth.

                                                                                    Food insecure is the kind of term that downplays the clinical realities of hunger from malnourishment. It makes people roll their eyes. Even many people who work and donate to provide food to the hungry.

                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                      So true. I thought the article in the OP tried to illustrate that hunger is not only a third-world country issue. The article comes from data collected by a foundation in the (non profit) business of supporting the ongoing need to fund (world) hunger. Basic needs not met. It is the foundations responsibility to demonstrate outcomes and best practices as the executors of such large charity purses.

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        Executives at major (and some not so major) are paid good to very good salaries. They certainly "profit" personally from making sure that their organization continues to operate and get funding.

                                                                                        1. re: kengk

                                                                                          kengk, are you referring to ED, Directors, of Development, Researchers and fundraising pros working from or working for large non profits? Incentive pay? http://www.guidestar.org/ViewCmsFile....

                                                                                          If so, I think we're heading OT (again) but there are rules for such operating decisions.

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            Not effective ones, IME. My state, NY, is making noises about outrages npo exec compensation. Between cheap loans, cars, bonuses and salaries that are a large % of total budgets...

                                                                                            We paid ourselves rather meagerly in my agency, choosing to pay direct care staff better, but I found out we were quite the rarity. And it actually became a problem in the budget when trying to replace one of us for the salary budgeted...

                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                              All I can offer in this regard is that the trust placed on coffers went unchecked for a long time. And that is rapidly changing with changes to filing forms, audits and priority placed on better financial record checking. At the same time, there is serious concern placed on over stating these cases for fear of every charity losing substantial funding.

                                                                                              As long as "we" don't make assumptions and do our own fact checking, the good guys will remain in full operational mode.

                                                                                          2. re: kengk

                                                                                            Which is one of many reasons why I question the validity of the stats put out by groups like world hunger.

                                                                                            An interesting stat that is not often mentioned is how much $$$'s in food assistance is sold by recipients to purchase shall we say "other items". An old Korean neighbor who owned a small grocery store in an urban area said the food stamp sales got started in front of his store every morning shortly after he opened.

                                                                                      2. re: Isolda

                                                                                        And I want to change my opinion of the term after reading the link above. I understand what they and you are referring to. Thanks.

                                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                                          Ok, so what's wrong with having food insecurity?

                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            Are you serious or making light as so often happens? If serious, how would you like it if you went to sleep at night wondering how you were going to put food on the table tomorrow. Or worse, if your children went to bed a bit on the hungry side and worrying if there was going to be anything for breakfast. That's what "food insecurity" is and I hate it that anyone in this country where there's so much food has to feel that way.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Yes, I am serious.

                                                                                              It's not about how much food this country has, or this world has.

                                                                                              Inequality, or insecurity, or whatever you want to call it, is just part of life.

                                                                                              Are we ok with income inequality (or insecurity)? Seems like most people are -- even the most socialist of countries have some sort of income inequality.

                                                                                              If there's going to be income inequality (or insecurity) then it follows logically that there's going to inequality (or insecurity) when it comes to things that are derived, or dependent upon, how much buying power a person has.

                                                                                              It is not society's moral obligation to ensure that every individual has the same -- either in quality or quantity -- amount of food to eat.

                                                                                              You'll never sell me on that premise. Never.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                No one's talking about quality or quantity. We're talking about enough so that no child goes to bed hungry. Can you buy into that minimum premise? If not, then heaven help us all.

                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  Society should provide all of us the means so that we can provide for our families.

                                                                                                  Nothing more, nothing less.

                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                      While money is absolutely tied to this crisis subjected here, until the day comes that everyone is provided a wage that will guarantee food on their table, the nothing more-nothing less doesn't help those who need assistance now.

                                                                                                      Take your personal mantra to Washington, ips- to the folks who have the authority to make a wrong right and as an attorney with a boatload of smarts you know that society is already trying to do more with less.

                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                        I already think society does provide all the necessary means for people to provide for themselves and their loved ones.

                                                                                                        Now, whether people actually take advantage of those means? That's a "them" problem, not a "me" problem.

                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                          Interesting perspective I grant you that.

                                                                                                          So, do you also believe that charities in the business of service to "them" is worthless? If society is providing all that is necessary for people to provide for themselves and their loved ones, what do we need charities for? What need do non profits fill? Why are communities working so hard to support their neighbors?

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            Without going off on too much of a tangent (if we haven't already), HillJ, my own (and I stress "own" here) personal view on charities, non-profits, etc. is that they are a reflection of our own self-interested desire to feel good about ourselves.

                                                                                                            We create charities, donate to them, volunteer in them, etc. because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We might say that we are doing it to help "those less fortunate" but we do it really for the psychic benefit it imparts on our own psyche.

                                                                                                            In some ways, charities are own psychological and self-interested way of balancing all the morally reprehensible acts we commit in our daily lives.

                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              Before you even typed a single word, I knew this was coming next.

                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                  The confusing part of your conclusion is that when necessary what society provides the public is assistance programs. those programs are by in large connected to non profit programs. So, whether the funding for food programs comes through the Fed, corporations or individual donations these programs for the needs of all citizens is a charitable enterprise.

                                                                                                                  There is no separating a) society already provides from b) charity is somehow a separate self-interest? That's a marriage.

                                                                                                                  I'm very glad that corporations feel good about supporting food programs. I'm glad communities rally to help their neighbors and I'm very glad the Fed programs that were established to address hunger still exist.

                                                                                                                  If advantage is taken, and I don't argue that at all, it's not the majority of people needing help putting food on their table. If we boiled down every society problem on just the bad apples, we'd be pretty weak in our efforts to be a giving, compassionate society and who would that help.

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    I've stated for years that I'd rather someone who doesn't need help get it so long as those who do need help get it. For me, it's the whole baby/bath water thing.

                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                      I don't see any point or value in separating individual need from managed expectations. Something as basic as 3 meals a day should be avail to everyone. Let the folks charged with maintaining authority over qualifications and program use do their job--in the meantime, let's feed everyone.

                                                                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                  But wait. Regardless peoples' motives for donating, don't the donations do good? Our government is unwilling or too cumbersome to hit everyone who needs help. I honestly don't give a damn what peoples' motives are. I just all want us to do whatever we feel comfortable/can afford to do.

                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    On the outer fringes there may be some people that government programs don't fully reach. Having said that, for a country the size of ours with a diverse population of over 300 million people, our safety nets provide incredible services.

                                                                                                                    Virtually all of our public schools provide hot lunches that meet strict federal nutritional guidelines and many even provide breakfast.

                                                                                                                    Food Stamps & WIC are just 2 of the many government programs out there to assist those that can't afford food.

                                                                                                                    If people take advantage of these programs and use the benefits of the programs as they were intended to be used (not sold for cigarettes, alcohol & street drugs) they would not be going to bed hungry.

                                                                                                                    I firmly believe in charities and donate annually. For logistical reasons on both ends, I donate $.

                                                                                                                    I think Americans are among the most generous people in the world but it is very difficult to help someone if they do not want to help themselves.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                      I think that safety net includes nonprofit food programs. And summertime lunch programs is just one of those.

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  This is also getting really, really far afield of anything to do with food. We'd ask people to pull it back in a little. Thanks!

                                                                                            2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903778

                                                                                              Here's a food-knowledgeable CH who struggles. Someone not so knowledgeable could easily fall into insecurity or hunger.

                                                                                              1. Personally I see this as more of an issue of lack of knowledge. Many people on food stamps simply do not know how to cook, or live in a situation where they do not have good options. Beans are cheap (though have gone up considerably in the last few years), but if you don't know what to do with them, they are useless. I also personally think that every person should know 'basic' cooking skills, being that we eat multiple times a day every day that we are alive. And that it should be part of our public education, way more useful then reading some books for english class, but that is another topic.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                                                                                  With the way our schools are struggling, I believe that "basic cooking skills" are a thing of the past.

                                                                                                  1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                                                                                    By in large the people rec'ing assistance don't lack basic cooking skills, they lack the money to cover the cost of food supplies. It is a general bias and misnomer that those in need of food programs lack in other areas of their lives. That they don't have many useful skills. SNAP resources on how to best stretch those dollars, where to shop, how to meal plan, take advantage of sales, etc. are lessons the general population can also benefit from learning.

                                                                                                    And, schools who have discontinued basic life skills classes are short changing every student, not just those using food stamps.

                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                      I know I should leave it at "redommend" but this is so much bigger. Thanks HillJ.