Archive for fresh and easy

holiday rush

Posted in aafb, economy & politics, food banks with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2009 by foodbankguy

The holiday rush is upon us, and thus I take this opportunity to wish you and yours the best during this season, my favorite time of year.  I’m partial to Thanksgiving, but really all of October though December is alright by me.

Snoopy's always a good choice for this time of year.

Not alright is tremendous demand food banks are seeing this year, up much more than usual, even though the time around the holidays is when demand historically peaks.  We did a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation a week or so ago and discovered Arizona food banks had moved 72% more food this year than at this time last year, but despite that increased distribution, they were only meeting about half of the total demand.  Scary stuff really, when you consider so many affected are children.

My CEO passed this on to me earlier today, which also helps frame the issue succinctly:   

36.5 million Americans currently take part in the Food Stamp Program, now officially called the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  That’s up by more than 10 million in just two years.  This program gives those on low incomes a monthly average of US $101 per person, or $227 per household, to spend on food.  Meanwhile, the USDA has also revealed the highest level of American food need ever recorded, with 17 million households, or 14.6%, struggling to put food on the table at times last year.  Across the Atlantic, 43 million Europeans are currently at risk of food insecurity (8.6% of the total EU population).

Locally, Fresh & Easy grocery stores–another favorite of mine–reported that for the third quarter of 2009, sales for the 13-week period ended November 28, climbed 37.4%, following some SNAP benefits being extended.  Costco recently announced it would accept SNAP benefits too, which is just another indication of how lucrative this market segment is… amazing to think of it as a desirable population for a retailer to reach, but there you have it.

Not all is bad though, I don’t want to bring people down, because this time of year does bring out some spirit, maybe even you could say the best in people.  Now how to harness that and distribute it equitably year-round?  Couldn’t tell you, I’m not a scientist, I don’t even like driving by Holiday Inn Expresses, but here are some recent stories from around Arizona that should put a smile on your face:

Finally, I’ll mention that if you’re struggling to find a gift for someone, hate malls, or just don’t have the time to be shopping all the time, consider a gift to AAFB in someone’s name.  It’s a very honorable thing to do, and there’s a pretty sweet tax credit in it for you too!  So long as you qualify, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah… but you get the idea!  Your funds help feed your neighbor who might be down on their luck, and also helps fund advocacy that might help your neighbor not be so hungry in the first place, hopefully in the not so distant future.  Remember, hunger is a fixable problem in this country if we want to fix it.

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