Wednesday, December 21, 2005

U.S. Conference of Mayors Report Shows Increased Demands For Food Assistance

CHICAGO, Dec. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors/Sodexho USA annual hunger and homelessness survey released yesterday reports increased need for emergency food and shelter in 24 U.S. cities, especially among the nation's working poor families. Requests for emergency food assistance increased by an average of 12 percent in the past year with 76 percent of the cities surveyed reporting an increase in demands.

"The report reinforces what many of our 210 food banks and food-rescue organizations are experiencing," said Robert Forney, president and CEO of America's Second Harvest – The Nation's Food Bank Network. "More people are in need of emergency food assistance while many of our Members are experiencing a decline in both food and funds."

Fifty-four percent of people requesting emergency food assistance were either children or their parents. Forty percent of the adults in need of food were employed. Additionally, requests for emergency food assistance by elderly persons increased by an average of 13 percent.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that more than 38 million Americans -- including nearly 14 million children -- are living on the brink of hunger.

"The Mayors' report provides a great snapshot of hunger in key cities nationwide," said Forney. "My hope is that news of this report will motivate people to join in the fight against hunger by making a donation to their local food bank or food-rescue organization this holiday season."

The causes of hunger most frequently identified by the survey were unemployment, and other employment-related problems, high housing costs, medical or health costs, poverty or lack of income, substance abuse, mental health problems, child care costs, utility costs, transportation costs and lack of education.

During the last year, the level of resources, such as food and volunteers, available to food assistance facilities increased in 39 percent of the cities, decreased in 35 percent and remained the same in 26 percent. Moreover, 52 percent of the cities said they are not able to provide an adequate quantity of food to people requesting assistance.

Officials reported that evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have not yet imposed significant strains on local resources.

"Not having enough food to meet demands it a real issue for many of our food banks," said Forney. "Our Network needs more food and funds to ensure that none of our neighbors go to bed hungry at night."

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America's Second Harvest — The Nation's Food Bank Network is largest charitable hunger-relief organization in the country, with a Network of more than 200 Member food banks and food-rescue organizations serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Network secures and distributes more than two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually; and supports approximately 50,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 94,000 programs including after-school programs, emergency shelters, food pantries, Kids Cafes and soup kitchens. Last year, the Network provided food assistance to more than 23 million hungry people in the United States, including more than nine million children and nearly three million seniors. For more information on the America's Second Harvest Network, please visit http://www.secondharvest.org .

http://www.usnewswire.com/

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