The government, mainstream media and even your neighbors may be optimistic about an economic recovery, but there’s a large segment of our population that is falling further into poverty, even though the government may not classify them as poor:
“We’re seeing a large number of families that have never needed food assistance before,” reports Traore [CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey]. How many? So far, for 2010 FBSJ has witnessed a 10% increase in their client base of approximately 100,000 people. Here’s the surprise: a large portion of the people needing food assistance today are working, and especially among FBSJ’s new clients, many are earning incomes nearly twice the poverty line of $22,055 per year for a family of four (up to 185% of poverty).
Who are the hungry and why can’t they afford to feed themselves and their families? Increasingly, the shocking answer is this: If you are not financially independent, the odds are good that someday you could be waiting in line to feed yourself and your family.
These aren’t the food lines of decades past, where the majority of those seeking assistance were homeless or from poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Modern day food lines, it seems, include people from all walks of life, including those who are gainfully employed and making upwards of $40,000 per year.
In Burlington County, NJ the Browns Mills’ Hope Mobile drops off food regularly and lines stretch hundreds of feet with those seeking help. Contrary to what many may believe is a low-income area where food assistance is commonplace, Burlington County is home to some 450,000 residents who have an annual household income over $70,000 per year – the county is 77% white, 17% black and 6% Hispanic.
With the heavy burden of rising energy and food costs, as well as the government’s attempts to “stabilize” home prices and rents at unreasonably high peak bubble levels, it is becoming much harder for those making a traditionally sufficient household income to put food on the table.
And this isn’t just one anecdotal story we’re using as evidence that there’s a serious a serious problem.
There are over 40 million people on food stamps in America right now.
The State of Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services reports that food assistance has doubled since 2002. From 2007 to 2010 Ohio has seen a 55% increase in those added to food assistance programs.
That’s a big number and the scary thing is that the trend is only getting stronger.
Though the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that job availability is increasing, millions of people remain on unemployment rolls, thousands of them reach the 99 week limit every month.
That means we will continue to see an increase in food stamp participation, government health care programs, school lunch programs, utility bill assistance and food bank lines over coming months and years.
Driving through your local Target or Walmart parking lot on Black Friday or during Christmas shopping week you wouldn’t think things are that bad.
The reality is they are – for well over 40 million people – and it’s only going to get worse.
Many will call it fear mongering, others will simply not believe it: We’re smack dab in the middle of the next Great Depression.
For those with the means, we recommend, as we’ve done in the past, to think ahead and plan for the worst. While you may have a job today, it could be gone a month from now. Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to keep that job, but if the Federal Reserve continues to print money uncontrollably, prices will be so high in the future that all of your monthly income will be used up just trying stay fed, air conditioned and sheltered.