Heat or Eat? Millions of Americans to Decide Between Food and Utilities This Winter
From Tacoma, WA, to Portland, ME, temperatures below freezing are giving Americans their first real taste of winter. Many are already deciding between a trip to warmer climates, or whether to ski in Aspen or Vail this season. But millions of low-income Americans are preparing to make a different kind of choice–a choice between putting food on the table and keeping their families warm.
The rising cost of utilities and heating oil in the last year has strained many household budgets beyond their breaking points, sending more and more families to seek emergency food assistance from food pantries and soup kitchens. This sudden increase in demand threatens to place a significant strain on food banks and food-rescue organizations, many of which are experiencing declines in food and financial donations.
A comprehensive hunger study conducted this year by America’s Second Harvest–The Nation’s Food Bank Network showed that nearly 42 percent of the households served by its network of food banks and pantries were forced to choose between buying groceries and paying for utilities or heating fuel.
Additionally, among the client households served by the America’s Second Harvest Network, 52.4 percent of households with children and 30.8 percent of households with seniors have had to choose between buying food and paying for utilities or heating fuel.
More than 35 million people in the United States, including nearly 12 million children, are living on the brink of hunger, uncertain where their next meal will come from. From donating food or funds to volunteering at a soup kitchen or writing a letter to a legislator, there are many ways to be a part of the solution to end hunger in America. The agency suggests that Americans take advantage of these opportunities to combat hunger in their own neighborhoods.
America’s Second Harvest–The Nation’s Food Bank Network is the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the country with a network of more than 200 member food banks and food-rescue organizations serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The America’s Second Harvest Network secures and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. It also supports approximately 50,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 94,000 programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes. Last year, the America’s Second Harvest Network provided food assistance to more than 25 million low-income hungry people in the U.S., including 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.