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With Lack of Food Comes Loss of Choice

April 2, 2008

For emergency food programs and the growing numbers of customers forced to rely on them, the reality of under-funding and overwhelming need are accompanied by a steady erosion of their freedom of choice. For Linda Hill, pantry manager at the Morris Senior Center in the Bronx, this loss of choice means turning customers away with little more than a few apples or potatoes. The Food Bank for New York City, who provides food for Morris Senior Center and other city emergency food programs, is calling this the most severe shortage of resources in their 25-year history, as the amount of food they receive from both the government and private donors has dropped sharply. “It’s frustrating. We used to get 10-pound bags of chicken and ground beef. Not anymore. We have sauce but no spaghetti. You want to at least give them a meal,” says Hill. Emergency food providers are waiting to see whether Congress chooses to extend current farm bill provisions for the coming year, or to pass the new farm bill which could prevent shortages from getting worse. The farm bill, which would also slightly increase funding for the Food Stamp program, still falls short of offering the resources needed to end hunger. Until our representatives make that commitment, many more will face the choice between paying for necessary living expenses or for food.

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