T.At the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, a converted mattress factory just south of Columbus, cars started lining up at least an hour before shifts. Drivers parked in white tents, where volunteers rolled grocery carts full of produce, meat, cakes, detergents, and other items toward each vehicle to efficiently load the trunks.
One volunteer, 31-year-old Daniel Berwick, directed traffic with a large orange flag. It wasn’t until recently that Columbus and mother of his four children, Berwick, was on the other side of the food bank equation.
“It was humiliating,” said Barwick, who lost her job during the 2020 pandemic, realized she had no protein at home, and used up all her fast food coupons, visiting her local church’s food pantry. I made it “It was embarrassing and sad.”
As American voters prepare to determine control of both houses of Congress in November, millions of people struggle to provide for themselves and their families as they head to the polls. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by 2021, 13 million households did not have enough food. and, signCensus data show food shortages could get worse this year.
Congress and President Joe Biden have largely prevented hunger from worsening during the pandemic with a series of stopgap measures. This increases profits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), feeds children when closed schools suspend free lunches for the most vulnerable, and food banks get It is now possible. groceries.
But some of those programs are ending this year, and dramatic inflation has made it even harder to buy groceries, leaving many food bank shelves empty and how hungry Americans are going to make ends meet. am worried.
The Ohio Collective’s warehouses are being used by charities to purchase items that would have previously been donated or donated by federal programs, according to Mike Hokron, senior vice president of communications for the Ohio Collective. Supply chain problems have exacerbated the problem, with at least 80 truckloads of cereal and pasta canceled in the past year, he said. .
“The biggest change is that we have to buy more,” said Hokuron, standing in a cavernous warehouse lined with shelves of crackers, soap, ground meat, papaya and other groceries. “In some cases, our purchasing power is half what it was a few years ago.”
Despite similar stories from food banks across the country and Republicans campaigning more broadly about inflation and the cost of living nationwide, the direct discussion of food security remains largely unheard of in many battleground states. appears to be missing from the political party of Roe v Wade was a big deal for Democrats.
For example, in Ohio, hunger is not mentioned as a key issue on a Senate campaign website. JD Vance When Tim Ryan, also discusses issues such as crime, which are often caused by hunger. Neither candidate responded to interview requests.
Democrat Challenger in Ohio Gubernatorial Race Nan Whaley proposed a $350 (£313) ‘inflation rebate’ for most residents.Her Opponent, Republican Incumbent Mike DeWinemakes no mention of food or hunger on his campaign site.
Ann Krigler, a professor of political science at the University of Southern California, said U.S. politicians have a long history of ignoring hunger as a campaign issue. It’s because they don’t know how to fix it, she said.
“People are reluctant to admit there is a big problem here,” says Krigler. “Behave like it’s something that only happens overseas.”
Some say it’s hard to imagine hunger not being a key issue in the midterm elections, whether the candidates are discussing it or not.
“I think people are more aware of what is at stake today than they were a few years ago.” White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, the first such gathering since 1969. I really think people get it. Let’s see.
Still, some of the food bank customers interviewed across the country said they have no plans to vote or, if they did, they wouldn’t take food policy into consideration.
Kimberly Birkins, who lives in a motel in York, Pennsylvania, supplements her federal food stamps with food from the local Salvation Army, but said she still doesn’t support expanding the federal hunger program.
“I appreciate the help, but I don’t think people should get anything for free,” said Birkins, who spent two years on disability benefits and earned just $800 (£716) a month. rice field.
The idea of starving people voting against their own interests is rooted in society’s broken philosophy of the “worthless poor,” said a former New York University professor of nutrition, food studies and public health. One Marion Nestlé said:
“The ingrained attitudes that the poor are worthless, that poverty is something you bring upon yourself, and that poverty is somehow self-sufficient are so deeply ingrained in the human psyche that it is difficult to get rid of yourself,” Nestlé said. “To understand why some people are poor and others are not, you have to really understand how society works.”
Some food bank customers say they understand the difference. Josh and Misty Murray, parents of three children who waited for a Ford pickup truck at an Ohio food bank, said polls would make hunger policies come to mind. I started going to the food bank 6 months ago when it jumped 15%.
“It hurts my ego, but I do what I have to do to support my family,” says Josh Murray.
In Larimer County, north of Denver, Colorado, local food banks have seen a 33 percent increase in visits to brick-and-mortar pantries since January, and a 67 percent increase in mobile pantries, said Larimer’s CEO. Amy Pezzani said. county food bank. And while customers used to rely on the pantry for about a quarter of their food, many now receive nearly all of their food from charities, Pezzani said.
And clients, who used to visit the pantry about once a month, now average nearly three times a month, she said.
“In our area, housing costs are increasing exponentially and much faster than wages,” Pezzani said. Congress should make some of its pandemic measures permanent to prevent further hunger, she added.
Food bank leaders and experts hope voters, hungry or not, will understand the importance of November’s decision. The next election could have a dramatic impact on hunger next year after failing to codify some of the pandemic aid programs.
According to Diane Whitmore-Schanzenbach, an economics professor at Northwestern University, about one-third of people who don’t have consistent access to food aren’t eligible for Snap’s benefits. She said the country needs better policies to prevent starving people from becoming trapped.
“Many of these pandemic relief ideas have come and gone,” said Whitmore-Schanzenbach, who attended the White House Hunger Conference. The deduction reduced poverty by 50%, why didn’t we follow it?”
About three years ago, Lisa Ortega, 64, lost her job to a series of health problems that forced her to turn to the Larimar County food bank. She lives in a house built by Habitat for Her Humanity in Loveland, Colorado, and hopes voters will show a little empathy as they head to the polls.
“People need to see this and change their minds,” Ortega said. “One day they might have to go to the food bank. It happened to me.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/12/hunger-food-insecurity-midterms-humiliating-us-voters ‘Humiliation’: US Voters Starving Ahead of Midterm Elections | 2022 US Midterm Elections