Touch the Soil News #282
The mayors of the major cities in America (cities of 30,000 and more) get together each year to discuss topics of mutual concern – one of them being hunger. Their umbrella organization is called the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). There are 1,407 cities of 30,000 or more and each city is represented in this organization by their mayor.
President Obama addresses the United States Conference of Mayors. To the extent that America's mayors get involved in solving hunger and homelessnes is the extent to which political power may increase for the nation's mayors.
Every year, the USCM puts together a report on hunger and homelessness. The report is put together by a sampling of cities. For the 2015 report that just came out, there were 22 cities participating (most of them with populations over 600,000) representing approximately 18 million people.
Now, before we get into what they found out about hunger, we want to visit a comment recently made by the Federal Reserve Bank before they increase the interest rate:
“It (the Fed) recognizes the considerable progress that has been made toward restoring jobs, raising incomes, and easing the economic hardship of millions of Americans. The economic recovery has clearly come a long way.”
From this statement, one would conclude that things were better in the nation and the folks in cities were having fewer food emergencies and things were looking up. However, the USCM report on hunger and homelessness did not reflect the Federal Reserve Bank’s findings.
There were a number of key findings in the USCM report that make for interesting reading. Following are the highlights:
- Sixty six percent of the surveyed cities reported that the number of requests for emergency food assistance increased over the past year. Across the cities, the overall number of requests increased by almost 6 percent. The cities with the highest increases in requests for emergency food were Washington D.C. with an increase of 27 percent, Des Moines, Iowa with 20 percent, Charleston and Dallas with 8 percent.
- Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 67 percent were people in families, 42 percent were employed, 23 percent were elderly and 10 percent were homeless.
- Eighty eight percent of the cities reported an increase in the number of person requesting food assistance for the first time.
- Increased requests for food assistance were accompanied by more frequent visits to food pantries and emergency kitchens. Fifty six percent of the cities reported an increase in the frequency of visits to food pantries each month.
- When surveyed as to the main causes that precipitated a need for emergency food assistance the following were given in the order of importance: 1) Low wages 2) Poverty 3) High housing costs 4) Health care costs 5) Unemployment
The report on Hunger and Homelessness by the United States Conference of Mayors reflects a large disparity between what is happening on the ground and the economic assessment by the Federal Reserve. Which report do you think more accurately assesses the economic landscape – The mayors’ report or that of the Federal Reserve?