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Many in U.S. now can't afford food

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 1st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The economy is so bad in the United States that growing numbers of people can no longer afford food, life's most basic necessity following oxygen. More Americans said they found it difficult to buy food in 2011 than in any year since the financial crisis. In a recent survey, about 18.6 percent of people, or almost one out of every five -- told Gallup pollsters that they couldn't always afford to feed everyone in their family in 2011.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It stands to reason that number grew less as more people went back to work over the past several months, but the exact opposite proved to be true. The number of people who said they couldn't afford food just kept rising and rising.

The economic recovery, more than two years old, has done little to keep millions of Americans from poverty and starvation. Incomes for many haven't kept pace with the cost of living, and unfortunately for many, things today are as bad as ever or even worse.

According to the Census Bureau, 46 million people lived below the poverty line as of 2010, a record number. Given a fresh perspective, the situation appears even direr. About 45 percent of people in the U.S. have reported not being able to cover their basic living expenses, including food, shelter and transportation, according to the group Wider Opportunities for Women.

Over two-fifths of Americans have so little saved that one financial emergency is all it would take to put them in poverty, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

These high rates of financial insecurity, which is a consequence of the weak job market and the prevalence of jobs that don't pay very well, are making themselves felt at the level of everyday spending.

A Center for Housing Policy study found that a growing number of middle-income owners and renters are paying more than half their earnings just to keep a roof over their heads. Almost one in five Americans over 50 years old were skipping on doctor visits, switching to cheaper medications or forgoing some medicines entirely out of financial necessity, according to a recently published study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

In regards to widespread hunger, research shows that the entire country ends up paying one way or another. While the people who can't afford food are obviously suffering the worst, the social costs incurred, such as the money spent to keep food pantries open to the lifelong diminished earning power of impoverished children comes to about $167 billion a year, or $542 for every man, woman and child in the country.

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