Food vs. Fuel–Not a good choice for the food insecure

Grain is a major input cost, either direct or indirect, in so much of what we buy at the grocery store.  Since the end of 2005, corn prices have risen from under $2 a bushel, recently peaking at over $5 a bushel. 

Prices of staples such as eggs, milk and bread have risen dramatically in the past year.

Sadly, it appears food inflation has only just begun.  This week Tyson announced significant price increases on our products.  It’s something we’ve been forced to do.  The ongoing manufacture of products at a financial loss is not a sustainable practice.

Consumers on the marginal end of the income scale are obviously going to feel the pain most acutely.  With rising energy costs, more and more will be forced into the kinds of choices we’ve all been advocating to eliminate.

Those of us who are in-kind donors in the fight against hunger are also going to have to manage our inventories more closely and efficiently than ever before to stay in business.  In all probability there will be less product available for donation to emergency food assistance.   At a time when the need is greatest.

Unfortunately, our government’s own well-intended policies have helped set this stage.   In an effort to reduce our dependency on foreign energy, we have inadvertently placed more Americans at risk of food insecurity.

We believe this is a discussion that should be occurring among hunger advocates. 

Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute offers an interesting–and sobering–articulation of this concern.