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Hungry Americans: Will the Stimulus Shorten Soup Lines?

As layoffs and home foreclosures continue, many Americans are experiencing hunger for the first time. Though the issue of hunger is often associated with developing countries, food bank demand in the US increased by 30% in 2008 from the previous year.

Food pantries in affluent areas such as Marin County, California, Greenwich, Connecticut and Lake Forest, Illinois are seeing swells of first time customers and are increasing their operating hours. Former employees of software companies, banks, and marketing firms who have been laid off, as well as real estate agents who haven’t sold property in months, are finding themselves in dire straits.

Since contributions often peak around the holidays, many food bank operators are concerned about having enough food to cover the unseasonably high demand. Soup lines were a hallmark of the Great Depression, and many Americans are standing in line again.

The stimulus package that was signed this week includes $19.9 billion to increase food stamp benefits (affecting over 30 million Americans). Food stamps offer a great stimulus: one dollar in food stamps is estimated to generate $1.84 in economic activity.

Image credit: National Archives

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