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Newly Poor Lining Up at Food Banks


The economic crisis has resulted in many Americans unable to provide adequate amounts of nutritious food to their families. According to a survey by Feeding America, demand at food banks across the country increased by 30 percent in 2008.

Some non-profit organizations that offer food assistance are also reporting a sharp increase in demand, especially from middle-class professionals who have lost their jobs.

Looking after her four young children is a major financial burden for Lynn Terito. She used to work for a real estate title company but is now unemployed and struggling to find a job.

Terito explains, "A lot of people are just not hiring right now. They say 'oh we're on a hiring freeze.'"

Terito says she needs to supplement her husband's income to help pay for essentials for her kids.

To make ends meet, Terito gets groceries for free at the non-profit Sonshine food pantry located in an affluent Florida suburb.

Terito exclaims, "It's pretty tough because they're growing kids. You know, they're constantly wanting to eat. I mean, you feed them a meal and ten minutes later they're hungry again."

Lynn Terito's family is one of a growing number of middle-class families seeking help during the recession.

George Scott runs the Greater Orlando Food Outreach store where goods are sold at a huge discount.

Scott explains, "These were the people, who a few years ago were doing great and suddenly in the past year they're pulling up in their Hondas and their mini-vans and their SUVs and they've never had to ask for help before."

The Outreach Store reported a record 8,000 customers in May.

Many customers, like Shirley Anderson (Former Director of Leadership Development for Hilton Grand Vacations), used to have high-paying jobs explains, "It's very hard to talk to yourself everyday and not get down and not have your self-esteem slip because you're still looking for a job."

But as demand for services rises during the recession, charitable donations are down. Giving in the U.S. dropped 2 percent last year, and two-thirds of charities saw declines.

Meanwhile, managers at this food pantry don't expect demand to fall until at least the second half of 2010.

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