The region’s supply of affordable food is low — at just the moment demand for it is rising. Why is that? Bill Siedhoff, the City’s director of Human Services, cited several reasons in a recent email to me:
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is the community’s response to hunger. Social service organizations and churches operating feeding programs rely on the Foodbank for product needed to feed the area’s needy. However, just when the price of oil, gas, rents and foreclosures are increasing, the Foodbank’s distribution is declining.
A convergence of factors has caused a decrease of 1.2 million pounds through November 2007. First, the food industry continues to implement efficiencies in the marketplace, trying to decrease product overproductions and mistakes that once became donations. While the Foodbank struggles to find additional corporate product, Government product distributed in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) has also declined. USDA subsidies to purchase excess product for distribution to the nation’s foodbanks have decreased 166 million dollars, 70%, in two years.
There is an understandable tendency for City residents to skip over most news articles about agricultural legislation. You should make an exception to read the discussion about the Farm Bill now stalled in the US Senate. It is vital for our neighbors’ welfare that this bill, which contains a very necessary increase in TEFAP funding that will help feed people in the St. Louis region, moves forward.
Call our Senators. We need their action.