As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approach, the nation’s network of food banks is struggling to meet growing demand with dwindling supplies.
The number of Americans at risk of hunger climbed to more than 35.5 million, 12.6 million of whom are children, say data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
At the same time, donations to the food banks that serve the hungry have declined, resulting in empty shelves.
That drop in food is due to several factors, says America’s Second Harvest – the Nation’s Food Bank Network.
The strong farm economy has led to a 70 percent drop in donations of surplus food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the past three years, food prices have soared, and skyrocketing gas prices mean significantly higher costs for food banks to transport food.
Some food banks are reporting their food inventories have dropped to record lows, while others are seeing dwindling stocks coupled with dramatic rises in demand for food.
America’s Second Harvest is hoping this year’s Farm Bill will provide some relief by increasing funding to critical programs such Food Stamps and Emergency Food Assistance.