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November 23rd, 2011
10:55 PM ET

As you raise that fork, remember those with less on their plates

Dave Schechter
Senior National Editor

As we sit down at tables laden with food, hold off a moment before putting that forkful in your mouth to give thanks for the bounty before you and remember that for millions of Americans it is just one more day of challenge.

The good folks who run the nation’s food banks know that the Thanksgiving holiday brings greater attention to what the government calls “food insecurity,” a clinical term for what the rest of us call hunger. The anecdotes in this piece come from Ken Kupchick, marketing director for the River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but are typical of what can be heard around the country.

There was the “very nice young mother” who walked into the food bank and said, “I used to volunteer at a food pantry. Now I need to use one.” Medical bills for their three children, including one with a genetic heart defect, had pushed her and her husband to the brink. Facing another $1,000 bill, the woman figured they would need to use a pantry for about six months until they got back on their feet financially.

Too many people needing help. Not enough food. Demand outstripping supply. This equation continues to worsen, even as the nation’s economy shows the most tentative signs of recovery.

Madelyn was described “as a very proper, eloquent and elegant Southern lady,” who was more than making ends meet until her husband passed away. Now she lives on $665 a month from Social Security and $16 a month in food stamps. “She was discovered sorting through the dumpster garbage at the local grocery store” and “would have been totally lost in society” had a store employee not spotted her. “She says she goes to the dumpster three times a week, recovering tomatoes, eggs, cottage cheese and yogurt to live on.”

According to the government, in 2010 14.5 percent of the nation’s households (just about one in seven) met the definition for “food insecurity,” including 5.4 percent living with “very low food security,” defined as “meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food.”


Filed under: CNN Newsroom
November 23rd, 2011
04:58 PM ET

"Turkey time-out" from your gadgets

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Filed under: Anchors • Brooke Baldwin