With the rising unemployment and the economy, Colorado residents are finding themselves having to turn to food banks to make it to the next paycheck. These are people who have never had to do this before. With the added number of people needing help, the five major food banks in Colorado are bracing for the storm. Last year Colorado’s five food banks distributed over 76 million pounds of food to more than 1,600 agencies in 64 counties. This was a 25 percent increase over the previous year and this year they are expecting it to get worse, especially with the holidays coming up.
The food banks are expecting at least another 7 to 10 percent increase, which would make it a 32 to 35 percent increase over a two-year period. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture states there is food insecurity, they mean the “lack of consistent access to a nutritious, balanced diet.” In 2008, there were 17.6 million households that were food insecurity, and by 2009, that number increased to 17.7 million households.
The USDA, as to keeping the food insecurity in check during the deep recession, credits the nation’s fifteen federal nutrition programs. It is now at its highest level since they started to keep records in 1995. In 2009, 12.2 percent of households in Colorado were categorized as food insecure.
The director of retail-product sourcing for the food banks wants to reduce child hunger by strengthening programs that increase low-income children’s access to meals. He wants Congress to pass the child nutrient bill. The U.S. Senate did pass legislation this summer to renew child nutrition programs. Over the next ten years, they will spend about 4.5 billion dollars to increase participation and improve meals. The drawback to this is that this money would be paid for by cutting food stamp benefits. The way it would figure out is that if they were eating on $4.50 a day, it would drop to $3.00 a day. It is hard to eat three nutritious meals a day on only $4.50 and almost impossible to do on $3.00 a day.
This is not only a dire situation in Colorado, but in all the states. If it is possible, every household should donate some canned foods to their local food bank. Some things that Colorado can do to help with the food insecurity is to hold food drives, allow patrons to pay for their library fines with cans of food, and whatever they can do to help.