At a 600-acre farm in Platteville, Colorado, an astonishing 40,000 people from around the USA turned up this weekend ready to partake in the ancient practice of gleaning – the act of collecting leftover crops from farm fields following the harvest.As many of us in the U.S. look forward to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner there are an estimated 36 million of our fellow Americans that cannot. There is a real and growing food crisis in what is purported to be the richest nation in the world.
Joe and Chris Miller, the farm owners, had invited people from neighbouring communities to come and take home the remaining potatoes, leeks and carrots on their land - expecting between 5,000 to 10,000 people to show up.
When an estimated 11,000 vehicles converged on the farm, 37 miles north of Denver, Chris said, 'Overwhelmed' is putting it mildly... People obviously need food’.
The couple decided to open their fields to those suffering hardship and as a thank you to customers after being informed of raids in local churches where food was being stolen.
The farm visitors were so numerous and did such a thorough job of cleaning up the leftover vegetables on the Saturday, that the second day of gleaning had to be cancelled.
According to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger demand is up 28 percent. In Chicago there is 33 percent rise in the number of people who have turned to a pantry for food assistance compared with a year ago. The Los Angeles Regional Foodbank reports that demand is up 41 percent and the quote that "One out of every ten people in Los Angeles County is at risk of hunger." With all of this new demand and a Thanksgiving dinner costing 12 to 15 percent more than it did a year ago, 72 percent of the food banks across the nation are receiving less government funding then they did last year.
Some 28 million Americans now receive some amount of help from the Food Stamp program, known since the beginning of this month as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Soup kitchens everywhere are in tough straits. That's because food prices have increased at a time when the numbers of people in need have risen and the people who donate, hampered by economic difficulties of their own, are contributing less. A family of 4 qualifies for about 28 dollars a week and if you have been to the grocery lately you know what $28 bucks will get you.
This is a big problem and growing bigger by the day. The great majority of us folks are feeling the pinch of the times but many of us not as much as a lot of us. Look real closely at your budget and see what you can spare for your local food bank. Even $10 will help. This is a special holiday week but next week and the week after people will be just as hungry so consider setting aside a small portion of your weekly food budget for those that have a whole lot less. Here in Atlanta and in other large cities the problem is staggeringly large but even if you live in small town America you can find someone that needs help with food. Check with local churches and they can point you to groups that are trying to help. Even if you can't help financially you might be able to help by volunteering.