- Why do the food banks not have enough resources to fully function and what could be done to address this issue?
Importance of Food Banks
Something that has always been important to human survival has been health and wellness. Most people would agree that they strive to be healthy because it greatly influences their lives. I have always been pretty interested in human health and plan on being a nurse in the future. Growing up I wasn’t always able to make the healthiest choices and was sometimes surrounded by people that were not making healthy choices as well. After I grew up a little and had more opportunity to make healthy choices, I had the desire to try to help out people, particularly family and friends that were around me. I took on the role of a caregiver and guardian with the most important people in my life. That is why health and wellness is something that is important and close to home for me.
A great factor that contributes to people’s health and well-being is the nutrition that they put into their body. Because this is so influential, I thought volunteering at a food bank was a great way for me to help out in the area that I find most important. I always knew that food banks are needed and are constantly utilized, but I didn’t completely realize how significant they were until I started volunteering and learning about how much they do. This is something that everyone needs to learn about and appreciate. There are a lot of people that strongly depend on what the food banks provide.
Unfortunately, food banks do not have all the resources they need to function at their very best, and therein lies the problem. The statistics of how many people food banks feed are astonishing. And yet, these amazing places do not always have enough food to distribute or the correct facilities to store product and operate out of. The food bank that I volunteered at had similar issues with operations. For the longest time they did not have a refrigerator or a freezer. So if they ever had fresh produce that would needed to be stored in a cool place, they had nowhere to keep it. Not only that, but at times they did not have enough food to give out to people that are were need. When I asked one of the supervisors there what was done about it, he told me that individuals that volunteered pitched in money so that they could go get more food. At times that was enough, but sometimes that did not cover what they needed. It is due to the effort of many volunteers that food banks are still operational. Unfortunately, the demand for food banks has been readily increasing. Therefore, the number of volunteers needs to increase as well.
All the great work that food banks do is being challenged by the cut in funding for food stamps. For families that visited food banks on occasions and every so often, this budget cut has increased their need to visit and receive help. The cut to food stamp funding was hard to swallow for a lot of people that relied on food stamp to get enough food every month.
Nixon, Ron. “Food Banks Anticipate Impact of Cuts to Food Stamps.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/22/us/politics/food-banks-anticipate-impact-of-cuts-to-food-stamps.html?ref=topics&_r=0
After the budget cut that was approved by congress, a lot of families were negatively affected and they turned to local food banks to help them out in this dire time of need. The federal food stamp program was cut by $5 billion and therefore all the people that relied on food stamps, started receiving even less and came to food banks. Unfortunately, food banks don’t have a surplus of resources for this surplus of people. And even if the food banks had all the resources that they would need for all these people, they do not have the infrastructure to distribute it. And to top it all off, they do not have enough staff to meet all these requests.
When the stimulus money expired, a family of three typically lost $29 in aid per month, which is enough for at least 20 meals, according to Feeding America. For a family of four, the loss was about $36 in benefits, about 23 meals per month. That is now anywhere from 20 to 23 meals a month that an average family is having to find elsewhere. And they find these meals at food banks. Even before the stimulus money ran out, the food banks were struggling, but now it will be even harder for them to meet all these demands.
Ferguson, David. “U.S. Food Banks Struggle to Meet New Demand Caused by Food Stamp Cuts.” Raw Story. 2 Nov. 2013. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.
This cut in food stamps is taking food off the plate and out of the mouths of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. Children, seniors, disabled veterans and other groups will be the ones that are hit the hardest by this cut in funds. The food banks are preparing themselves for longer lines and worrying about resources being spread thin. USA Today reported that 37 million Americans were reliant on food banks to meet their nutritional needs in 2010, up from 25 million in 2006. The numbers have only grown through the recession brought on by the deregulation of the financial markets and cuts to social programs. In the battle against hunger, food stamps were the first line of defense, and now they are no longer as strong. This leaves a lot more strain on food banks that we need to help out with.
Various. “Take Action / Ways To Give.”Feeding America. Feeding America. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. http://www.feedingamerica.org
Although there is a lot of sadness and difficulty with the current situation, there is still hope at the end of the tunnel; there are a lot of ways one could help food banks in this tough time. The feeding America website talks about what people can do to help out the food banks especially in this time of need. People can advocate, donate, volunteer, and have food drives, among other thing. What is most important is that the public needs to be made aware of how beneficial these food banks are to those that are struggling and would therefore be more motivated to participate in whatever way they can.
How to Get Involved
What is most important is for people to make the decision to volunteer; there are a lot of different ways that one could get involved if they were interested in helping out the food banks. To help out something that can be done is to physically volunteer. That is something that is always needed at food banks; they do not have enough hands to help out. Of course it makes sense that sometimes people are not physically able to come and volunteer. But not to worry, there are other ways to contribute. Donating is something that is vital to the organizations. So either donating money here and there or signing up to donate a specific amount each month are great ways to support food banks. Another option for donation is food and supplies. Donations of foods are great because the food bank does not need to go out of its way and purchase the products or do anything else. Food banks are always in support of food drives, and from personal experience, I can say that they are always a great success. Hunger has always been an issue and will still be around in our near future, but it is not something that we cannot beat. When people come together for a common goal, great things can happen. The more people that volunteer and donate in whatever way they can, the better chance we have at eliminating hunger altogether. Society just needs to be made aware of what is going on around it and people just need to have the desire to help.