While some eager shoppers are preparing to wait in long lines when their favorite stores open on Black Friday, many Americans are already lining up at food banks, simply hoping to put food on the table this Thanksgiving.
In a heartbreaking report, CBS chronicles the plight of “America’s new poor” — many of whom used to be the very people who donated to food banks. But with millions out of work, foreclosure rates still high, and the country’s economic outlook as bleak as ever, yesterday’s givers have become today’s takers.
Take Forsyth County, near Atlanta. Despite having the highest average household income in Georgia, hundreds of these “newly-needy” file into local food banks:
“People lost their jobs and went from great incomes to no incomes,” said Sandy Beaver [who] leads The Place, Forsyth County’s biggest non-profit center for social services. She calls those who visit The Place “the new poor.” The Place’s main mission: Feed the hungry. [...]
“Many of our people who have come for assistance used to be our donors. And they’ll say, ‘I never thought I’d have to do this, never in my wildest dreams.’” [...]
People like these married retirees in their 70s, too embarrassed to appear on camera…They retired comfortably in their early 50s. But now, after bad investments, a ruined portfolio, and costly medical issues, they qualify for food stamps – and could lose the house.
“Taking the food was really tough,” the woman said. “The hard part was, we used to give it, and now I’m taking it back, you know?” she said, crying.
At one Forsyth high school, 8 percent of kids now get free lunch, double the number three years ago. And unfortunately, the situation Forsyth is not unusual. One in six Americans — 49 million people — isn’t sure where their next meal will come from. A record 15 percent of Americans are now receiving food stamps — a jump of about two-thirds since 2007.
Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, who are returning from combat to face higher unemployment rates than nearly any other group, are also struggling to get by. Raymond Price, an Afghanistan vet, says “All I want is a job. I don’t really want anybody’s handouts.” But with a family to feed, he came by a food bank last week for a box of non-perishables.
This holiday season, please consider donating to a local food bank. You can find one nearby or donate online through the Feeding America website. You can also give to Operation Homefront, a group that provides assistance to military families.