By Susan Brockway
I pose this question before I even begin, because unlike one or two years ago, things are not as easy, and need a quick solution. I am a board member of a Feeding America member food bank. My fellow board members, staff, volunteers and I are constantly looking for ways to bring more food into the pipeline. We have increased our distribution by 1 million pounds in one year and will most likely see another increase this year. Some would say “great job”. I say this is a recipe for trouble and that we need to pay close attention to the trends.
It is expected that we will see an increase of approximately 40% in the number of agencies and individuals needing food from community food banks. Is anyone but me questioning why this is a dangerous trend? While we certainly are working hard at meeting the needs of growing numbers of families, food banks and agencies were never meant to take the place of retailers, gardens, co-ops and markets in supplying food.
Some would say that food banks have been forced to become a retailer of sorts, making food choices and purchasing food to keep up with the increasing demand. When people and organizations who have traditionally been food bank donors are forced by the economy to be food bank recipients, what are we to do?
Please tell me you are not satisfied with the status quo. Let’s open some dialogue about why most states are struggling to provide an easier venue for individuals to apply and qualify for food stamps? We are a food rich nation, how are we managing this asset?
Susan Brockway is Sr. Community Relations Manager at Tyson Foods, deeply involved in the company’s hunger relief efforts. She is also Board President of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.
photo Creative Commons, Mike Licht