From the richest country in the world if we are led to believe the propaganda , that is .
A recent study by the Food Bank For New York reveals that the city's hunger problem, far from diminishing, is getting steadily worse. According to the report, since 2003, the first year data were available, the number of city residents who experienced difficulty affording needed food in the previous 12 months has increased tremendously.
While in 2003 the number of people struggling to put food on the table was about 2 million, in 2004 it already was 2.5 million, in 2005 2.6 million and last year it went up to almost 3 million - an increase of 48% .
According to the study, while the cost of food, housing, fuel and other basic expenses has gone through the roof in the last few years, real wages (what you can actually buy with the money you make) have decreased more than 10% since 2003.
Aine Duggan, the Food Bank's vice president of government relations, policy and research said.
"These numbers refer to people who are experiencing hunger and also to those who have trouble affording the food they need or the right type of food..."
Nor is it the poor and the homeless and the hobos who suffer .
"More middle-income people are joining the ranks of those struggling to put food on the table.The shrinking middle class is real."
The percentage of New Yorkers with household incomes as high as $50,000 to $74,999 that are having trouble affording the food they need went up to 28% last year from 14% in 2003, the study found.
"This study shows that there is a certain misconception about what it means to be struggling and hungry in New York. It is more widespread than people think. People working full time, the guy who cleans your building at night, the school guard - they all can be having trouble putting the food they need on the table." said Councilman Eric Gioia .
The number of those who lack savings to fall back on if they lose their jobs or become ill has increased dramatically. Among New Yorkers with annual household incomes ranging from $25,000 to $49,999, for example, the percentage of those not able to afford food immediately after a loss of household income rose to 26% last year from 16% in 2003 .
Nor is it in the big soul-less city that people go hungry .
In Rhode Island we read more people are going hungry than before :-
Michael Cerio, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, said. "People's wages are just not keeping up with cost of living and, because of that, hunger is now affecting one out of every eight households,"
In 1998-1999, when a study was done, the number of households affected by problems providing food was one in every 10. Each year, according to the statistics provided, the number appears to be increasing .This increase is due to a number of things, according to Cerio, such as the increased cost of fuel, home heating costs, rents, mortgages and utilities and other costs of living. Wages are increasing, he said, but it may not be enough.
"For the calendar year 2006, we fed 13,698 people," said Dan Sylvester, president of the West Warwick Food Pantry. "When they come, we give them three meals for three days, so that was a total of 123,282 meals last year."
And this year ??
Sylvester said, there has already been "higher totals than the same months last year."
"It just seems to get worse every year as rents get higher, the cost for fuel gets higher, the cost for electricity gets higher, and many people just can't do it," Sylvester said.
In neigbouring Warwick according to Jean Gattegno, president and CEO of Westbay Community Action said :-
"There has absolutely been an increase in people requesting food," she said. "As the costs of rents have increased along with medical costs and utilities payments, people just do not have enough money to make it through the month...We see a lot of people in crisis, but the underlying effect of the crisis is that they just do not have enough money to make it through the month .We see so many young people and young families who are working that are just not able to make ends meet. It really says a lot about the economy of the state." - It actually says more about the economic realities of the Capitalist State
The increased numbers the pantries are seeing are coming from more working families requesting help. The number of working poor accessing food pantries for assistance in this state, according to Cerio, is at almost one third (32 %) of the households served by the Food Bank Network. This number is up from 29 % on 2001 and 25% in 1997.
Pat Shurtleff, the human services director for near-by Coventry, said she is seeing an increase in the number of people accessing services from the food bank as well.
"We are seeing an increase in the number of families," Shurtleff said. "Many people are living paycheck to paycheck, so that when they have that extra unexpected cost come up - whether it be an increase in medication cost, a car that breaks down and needs to be fixed - it can really throw people off because they just cannot afford to put that reserve in the bank for things like that."
Doesn't really reflect the image we see of American capitalism on our TVs , does it ?