Monday, May 26, 2008

the poor: thanks (to Congress and Bush) for the high food prices!

From the AP's Don Babwin (hat tip: C-J), news that a weaker dollar and ethanol continue to hurt all consumers-- here, especially the poor (who spend a disproportionate amount of their incomes on food).

Danielle Brown stands outside a South Side market at midnight, braving the spring chill for her first chance to buy groceries since her food stamps ran out nearly two weeks ago.

For days, Brown said, she has been turning cans of “whatever we got in the cabinet” into breakfast, lunch and dinner for her children, ages 1 and 3.

“Ain’t got no food left, the kids are probably hungry,” said Brown, a 23-year-old single mother who relies heavily on her $312 monthly allotment of food stamps – a ration adjusted just once a year, in October.

This is what the skyrocketing cost of food looks like at street level: Poor people whose food stamps don’t buy as much as they once did rushing into a store in the dead of night, filling shopping carts with cereal, eggs and milk so their kids can wake up on the first day of the month to a decent meal.

“People with incomes below the poverty threshold are in dire straits because not only are food prices increasing but the food stamps they are receiving have not increased,” said Dr. John Cook, an associate professor at Boston University’s medical school who has studied the food stamp program, particularly how it affects children....

Because food stamp allotments are adjusted every fall based on the federal food inflation rate, recipients are months away from getting any relief. But even when that relief comes, advocates said, it won’t come close to keeping pace with rising costs....

Start with milk. Between March 2007 and this year, a gallon of milk jumped from just over $3 a gallon to nearly $3.80, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same period, eggs climbed from about $1.60 a dozen to $2.20....


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