Food banks around the country are implementing new policies to combat rising food costs and food shortages as more people are struggling to get enough to eat.
On July 1, for the first time ever, Washington, DC's Capital Area Food Bank will charge its members for fruits and vegetables. The charge of 10 cents per pound affects the approximately 700 agencies that rely on the organization to help feed the hungry. The cost of food has risen to an all-time high this year; the Food Bank needs to offset the extra $1 million spent of fresh produce. As a result of this produce charge, regional hunger relief organizations are having to stretch their dollar further. Food for Others pantry in Fairfax, Virginia will have to pay an additional $40,000, a quarter of its purchased food budget. Bread for the City, DC's largest food pantry, is planning to find additional produce by scavenging for fruit on trees in public places.
In Northeast Tennessee, the Second Harvest Food Bank is considering giving out crushed and dented cans for the first time. Although these items would have been previously trashed due to the risk of bacteria slipping through a crack, the cans are now a vital source of food as demand continues to grow. The food bank is working on a pilot program to test and ensure the food is safe to consume.
Masbia (Hebrew for satiate) kosher soup kitchen in Brooklyn has acknowledged the need to cut corners -- the organization went from serving whole chickens to chicken wings. Since its founding in 2005 in Borough Park, Masbia has opened locations in three other neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. It has seen a 300% increase in demand.
Despite the growing demand for food and the rise of food costs, there should still be plenty to go around, says Jonathan Bloom, author American Wasteland. Americans squander about 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S., about 150 billion pounds a year, he says. That's far more than what's needed to feed the hungry.