December 4, 2008

Feeding America urges the Congress to provide additional funding to help food banks throughout the nation meet the growing demand for emergency food assistance at food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the nation, and to provide significant increases to the food stamp program as part of the Economic Recovery Package.

High food prices, fuel costs and utility bills are having a devastating effect on the working poor, the recently unemployed and many low- income Americans, who struggle on an on-going basis to put food on the family table.

"As the economic crisis worsens, more and more people are coming to food pantries and soup kitchens served by our network of food banks, desperately seeking help to feed themselves and their families," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America."We are seeing new faces asking for help, including people who were once financial supporters of our food banks. While donations of food and funds from corporate America remain strong, we need much more relief. Legislation to address economic recovery must include provisions that help the more than 36 million Americans who face the prospects of hunger each day, so that the most vulnerable people and communities in our nation can meet that most basic of human needs--enough food to eat."

A survey of Feeding America Food Banks in May 2008 reported average increases of 15-20% in the number of people seeking emergency food assistance compared to a year prior. More recent economic conditions are forcing even more people to seek help from local feeding organizations.


As Congress works on new Economic Recovery Legislation to stimulate our weakening economy, the needs of families and individuals struggling to put food on the table must be addressed. Food stamp benefits must be increased, and Feeding America food banks and the 63,000 agencies they support must receive the following help to remain viable and responsive to the growing need.

  • Annual increase of $100 million for the purchase of additional TEFAP commodities. Additional federal commodity support is vital to food banks if they are to keep up with rising demand as the economy worsens. Including an allowance for states to use up to 10% of the commodity value for distribution costs also will give flexibility to state and local agencies to put support where it is needed to reach more hungry people.
  • Annual increase of $50 million for TEFAP state and local commodity distribution costs. Skyrocketing operating costs and tight state and local budgets make this increase critical. Emergency feeding agencies are desperately in need of help to transport, store, and distribute commodities to the growing number of people requesting food assistance. This will fully fund the increased authorization contained in the recently enacted Farm Bill.
  • $15 million annually for Food Bank Infrastructure grants. Recognizing the challenges food banks in rural areas are facing in delivering food to those in sparsely populated communities, Congress authorized $15 million for transportation and infrastructure grants in the Farm Bill. No funding has been provided for this critical initiative, which will be especially helpful to food banks delivering food to hungry people in rural communities.
  • Annual increase of $30 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) to maintain caseload and replenish inventories. Funding to sustain the CSFP program is necessary to make sure that nutritious foods are provided to low-income seniors, mothers, and young children.


Enactment of these proposals will help ensure that emergency food assistance is available to hungry Americans in these difficult economic times. Moreover, the inclusion of additional funding for food stamps and emergency food assistance will support economic recovery and help stimulate local economies. Food stamp benefits will immediately move into local economies, and any incremental food assistance received through programs like TEFAP and the CSFP will free up scarce resources for other essential purchases that can help increase economic activity.


Please contact one of our media representatives or call 800-771-2303


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