Food charities cupboards' bare (Y2k hoarding...) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Food charities' cupboards bare

DONATIONS: Y2K hoarding and, ironically, prosperity are being blamed for the holiday shortages.

November 17, 1999

By BONNIE WESTON The Orange County Register

The Orange County Rescue Mission has 700 homeless families looking forward to Thanksgiving food boxes next week  and food for 200.

Second Harvest Food Bank can't fill its member charities' daily food needs, much less holiday trimmings. The CDC Food Bank is hoping grants will make up for its empty donation barrels in time for Christmas.

Across Orange County's charitable community it's the same story: Need is up. Donations down. The holidays are here, and people are worried.

"Something's going on, but I don't know what," said Cristy McAbee of the Episcopal Service Alliance. "Three of four ESA offices saw an increased demand for food last month. It's amazing."

And while needy families appear to be multiplying, donations are decreasing, say McAfee and her charitable peers.

Some suspect Y2K stockpiling. At the Rescue Mission, President Jim Palmer has received e-mails from people promising to donate their stored goods if the worst doesn't happen at the end of the year.

This could make for a great 2000  but food charities are more worried about feeding their clients today, and providing something special for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Ironically, Palmer and others suspect the county's boisterous economy is to blame. With unemployment hovering around 2.5 percent, Palmer said it's easy to forget that prosperity is not universal.

Parents working full time for minimum wage often need help, especially with the average rent for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit in a large apartment complex in the county at $1,152 month.

"All you hear about is how great everything is, so it's easy to forget," said Palmer. "It's true things are good, but not for everyone."

The ESA's Huntington Beach center typically gives food boxes to 450 families each month. In October, it gave to 650 families, the great majority working families. Demand is up again this month.

During Thanksgiving week last year, the Rescue Mission distributed food boxes containing 38 meals to 500 homeless families, most living in motels.

Because it expanded its effort to reach families during the past year, it now has 700 families in need.

The Mission didn't do anything differently this year. It has donation barrels scattered around the county. They just aren't filling up.

In addition, the Second Harvest Food Bank  which sells food to charities at pennies on the pound  can't make up the difference for them all. It doesn't have the food.

The problem is partly logistical.

For more than a decade, the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America has sponsored a fall food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank.

This week last year, it delivered 190,000 pounds of food to Second Harvest, which reaches 185,000 people through member charities each year. Not this year.

With Second Harvest's approval, the Scouts moved the drive to February, when they have more time and need is traditionally higher because of a post-holiday slump in giving. The food bank has made up some of the difference with other food drives.

"We are feeling the pinch," said Second Harvest's Nicole Thompson. "Right now, on hand, we have 500 turkeys. We could use thousands  hams, too, and the trimmings. They go out as fast as they come in."

As they have in years past, the CDC Food Bank has put donation barrels around the county. This year, some are coming back empty  something that rarely, if ever, happened in the past. CDC is counting on pending applications for grant money.

The true impact of its shortage, however, won't be felt until next month.

"We haven't done anything big for Thanksgiving in a while, we just don't have the resources," said Food Bank Director Mark Lowry. "We concentrate on Christmas."

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 17, 1999


The holidays are here, and people are worried... Parents working full time for minimum wage often need help, especially with the average rent for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit in a large apartment complex in the county at $1,152 month.

If these people didn't "panic", food would exist. There is no problem. This is strictly a "people panic" problem. I mean this is what the pollies believe right?

-- Larry (, November 17, 1999.

My cub scout pack ran a food drive last weekend. We covered about 1200 houses and got 1690 cans of food.

Last year, we got over 3000 cans. Something is definitely up. My companies United Way drive only hit 2/3rds of last years total as well.


-- Bryce (, November 17, 1999.

The key is in the article: "Parents working full time for minimum wage often need help, especially with the average rent for a two- bedroom, two-bathroom unit in a large apartment complex in the county at $1,152 month." Low unemployment does not necessarily mean living wages for everybody, especially in Orange County. $$$$$$!

Another story hit the TV news here in Sacramento last week -- seems a farm that had supplied free turkeys to local food banks last year went out of business this year. So, the local kitchens have all of the trimmings for Thanksgiving but none of the turkeys. I sent off a check to one of the missions last week; at the same time I went to the store to top off my preps. Private stockpiles are not the problem, whatever that reporter may think.

-- Margaret J (, November 17, 1999.

I agree with Margaret.

A $1,152 month two-bedroom unit for people on minimum wages? Hellooo?

Stockpiling Y2K preps definitely didn't make me more selfish this year, on the contrary I felt rather generous filling 2 bags of cans for the boy scouts last week, instead of one as I did last year.

Something seems to be up, but I wouldn't be so quick on blaming y2K prepers who make up a small percentage of the population.

-- (, November 17, 1999.

I just shared the following information on the thread about the DC Faith Community meeting on November 16. I thought it would be of potential interest here as well.

Future Foods is a very low cost source of food (58 cents a serving when bought in bulk). The website is The phone number is 612 504 2930. I have tried it. It is quite palatable, about a 6 or 7 on a 10 point scale. It can be enhanced by adding anything from tuna, to chicken, to SPAM. You have to cook it as you would some rice products, for about 20 minutes. While a package is to serve 6, I think it would serve alot more than that. This company has a non-profit arm that their profits go to. The non-profit arm provides food to starving children all over the world. The name of that organization is Feeding Starving Children, International. James Fisher at is a point of contact there. It sounds as if they are performing needed services all around. There are other organizations providing similar sorts of services. It would certainly be helpful if someone has a list that they could share.

-- Paula Gordon (, November 17, 1999.

I have given MORE canned food this year on my way out of the grocery store now with CANS!!!!

-- Mara (, November 17, 1999.

How can there be HORDING there are NO SHORTAGES yet. My food is private property.

-- goldbug (, November 17, 1999.

612 is the area code for Minneapolis, MN. I believe I am familiar with the FF organization mentioned above. My main gripes with them are: 1) they are still charging near-meat prices for what is essentially a grain product with a touch of spices ($1.00 gets you about 22 pounds of wheat at true wholesale prices, after all), and 2) if they would knock off the diversion of money to outsiders, they could reduce their prices by a commensurate amount. If someone wants to send part of their preps money off to people in some place where they will get killed by something next week if they don't starve to death this week, that's their business; give them the address for "Save the Children", or an equivalent. I'm worried about about saving MY (if I don't use every cent I have toward preps) possibly starving children from Y2K.

The Third-Worlders: give them information, not food. They live in places generally rich in resources; the consequences of unwise behavior/poor decisions (such as not overthrowing their corrupt/socialist gov'ts) are the cause of their problems. Just giving them food solves nothing if the underlying causes remain; read the article on world hunger in the book "Stalking the Wild Taboo" if you don't understand this. If you give a man a fish vs. teaching him to fish...

-- MinnesotaSmith (, November 17, 1999.

CA added 5 bucks on a carton of smokes to "help the poor." It recreated the downward spiral communistic and socialist nations always eventually find themselves. Make the poor more poor to "help the poor" and all the people become more poor with an ever increasing amount of "the poor." It's destroying its economy, few are inspired to do much now "for the poor" and the governments are gouging the peoples money so there is so less money out there abounding.

Reverse the tobacco taxation and the donations will increase greatly.

-- Paula (, November 17, 1999.

Congrats Paula you have hit a home run. Here in our house our weekly expenses for cigarettes have gone from 30.00 alittle over a year ago tonearly 90.00 now. A week. Same story at my moms house, my MIL's, hell every smoker I know, and that's about fifty percent of the population in east Texas. These cigarette taxes are literally killing the working poor, and dragging lower middle class into the working poor category. This is catching up with them now. A lot of people, me included have opted out of a lot of retail spending we otherwise would be doing because we are unable to quit smoking and the constant drain on finances is getting too heavy. The government has screwed us bigtime and they are about to find out what the payback is going to be.

-- Nikoli Krushev (, November 17, 1999.

What's the joke about unemployment? Sure there are plenty of jobs.... I've got 3 of them myself.

-- Linda (, November 17, 1999.

I can agree that there seems to be more pressure on the food pantries. Our church secretary says that there have been more families seeking assistance in the last couple of months. Seeing some of the folks, I can say that they certainly do appear to be needy.

That being the case, the church will not be setting aside any y2k provisions. The food is going out as fast as it is coming in. But, really, that is why it is there. So we will do what we can to meet the needs that come our way.

One thing is sure: the people in need are not being denied food because of people prepping for y2k. We are just digging a bit deeper to provide what is needed.



-- gene (, November 17, 1999.

Egads Nikoli - Isn't it time to quit smoking? You know how many long term smokers that have lung diseases wish they could turn back the clock.

It is that time of year when the food kitchen food shortage stories hit the newspaper to prompt donations. Has nothing to do with Y2K. Any day you'll start seeing the Christmas for Sharing (or Caring) stories featuring a professional breeder with 5-8 children that doesn't have enough to eat. My answer to that is free vasectomies for anybody that wants one. Best investment money can buy.

-- Guy Daley (, November 17, 1999.

Funny you should mention this--on the radio this morning, here in Dallas, I heard that the North Texas Food Bank (located in Arlington, I believe) is having its worst year EVER. All they have is some canned fruit and canned veggies. No meat, no potatoes, no rib- sticking stuff. They were blaming the fact that our temps have still been in the low 80's for the high every day, thus making people not think about things like donating to a food bank as they might do around the holidays. Retail people have been worried, too, as sales are off from this time last year. Our school had our yearly canned food drive and the amounts were WAY off from last year, and it was pushed just as hard. TEachers even gave one free 100 for bringing 3 cans to donate.

I encouraged my students to donate to the North Texas Food Bank, but I don't push it too hard. Some of my students, after all, are potential candidates for the food bank. The food bank said that at the current levels of their supply they could supply about 50 families with canned fruit and veggies, that's it. They usually have 10 times that many show up this time of year.

-- preparing (, November 17, 1999.

Guy: I had to LOL at the last paragraph of your post. I always am amazed at the people with ALL these kids whining about how they don't have enough $$. Catch a clue, stop spittin' out kids! Sheesh. That's one of the myriad reasons we had ONE.

-- preparing (, November 17, 1999.

OK folks. Pick up a couple of extra cans for the charities, in addition to your regular preparations... They are doing good work. And also get a few extra cans/bags to help out your needy friends who are unable to prepare...

-- Mad Monk (, November 17, 1999.

Guy, easier said than done. I can and have quit drinking, no problem. Walked away from Marijuana and assorted other drugs 20 years ago with not even a backward glance. Have quit smoking about a hundred times, just this month. Nicotine is an evil evil master. Well that's not really true either, I enjoy smoking, and you gotta want to quit to be successful. It doesn't help matters at all that my wife smokes the same brand I do and she won't even consider quitting so they are laying all over the house.

-- Nikoli Krushev (, November 17, 1999.

Nickoli: I understand your dilemma. It is SO hard to quit the cigs. I noticed myself that I was helped to quit when I realized that smoking was controlling all(ALL) aspects of my life...where I could smoke, who I could smoke around, when I could smoke...etc etc.... It can finally make you furious that such a thing (nicotine) could have such TOTAL control over your life. I quit about 9 years ago. It was not easy. For the first few years, I even had dreams about smoking-that's how powerful the addiction really is to most people I believe. One tip that helps: visualize some son-of-a-bi##h that you really despise that has quit smoking.....if that A##hole can do it; then YOU CAN TOO!! It may be the hardest thing that you have ever done (I remember it as one of my best accomplishments).... but remember, millions of others have done it - and you CAN too!!

-- jeanne (, November 17, 1999.

Er, there is another explanation. If you are talking about collecting spare FOOD, then is it possible that we are seeing a situation where Joe Blow has LESS in his home than usual this year, rather than just being reluctant to share? Remember, the consistent Y2K message from the governments (when it's been mentioned at all) is "Don't stock. No worries. Live for the moment."

-- Colin MacDonald (, November 18, 1999.

Colin, you are right that the average home has less in the pantry this year, but the cigartte price is the main factor controlling this. I forget the exact figure the gov is currently giving for average hourly wage but it is approximately $7.50 here in the states. That leaves an after tax income of about $220.00 per week on average. Now the gov says that upwards of 25% of the general population smokes and the average smoker will go through a carton and a half of cigarettes per week. The number of smokers is far greater than the national average in the South than in the North also. A carton of name brand cigarettes three years ago cost ten to twelve dollars here in Texas for an average cost of fifteen dollars per smoker. The current prices are around $30.00 per carton for an average weekly expense of $45.00 per smoker. That is a 30 dollar per week, 120 dollar a month, 1440 dollars per year less disposable income that is available to 25% of the population who are only bringing home around eleven and a half thousand per year. Of course these figures are just averages, and may be doubled for two smoker households such as my own, but if you think 25% of the population taking a 10% cut in real income isn't going to have long term effects on the economy and society you are gravely mistaken. In the poorer households which make up the majority of the smoking population this will translate into cuts in the quality of food provided for the children as other household expenses are relatively fixed and cannot be cut.

I can't begin to tell you how angry I am at the government over this blatant rape of the working poor to raise revenue without having to be accountable to the general population for raising taxes. 25% of the population just got what amounts to a 75% increase in their income taxes, and are powerless to do anything about it.

-- Nikoli Krushev (, November 18, 1999.

Well Nicoli,

They've been taxing the rich for all these years,

It's about time that they got around to taxing the poor;^)

It's about time for you to start rolling your own I'd say.

-- LM (, November 18, 1999.

I've cut back on donations, and I'm not proud of it, but I'm having a hard time affording it. Some of it has been frivolous (sp?) spending (before I GI'd), but most of it has been for preps for my family (and any drop-ins)...

Also, I work in downtown Columbus, Ohio. I see quite a few shills everyday on my way to work. I see them ask for money, yet they still smoke cigarettes and are extremely overweight, and there is a shelter no more than four blocks down the street. Seeing this day-in, day- out for the past 16 months has hardened me, and I don't like it... Yes, maybe the shills will hurt, but it's the poor children that I really worry about.

Anyone know of a charity that reaches the poor who have children? THAT I wouldn't mind donating to, before the holidays, when they'll really need it.

-- Deb M. (, November 18, 1999.

Nikoli - Make a pact with your wife to quit cold turkey. You know it will be the most important health investment of your life - Probably save you tons of doctor bills later on in life. Team up with the wife and support each other. Try to substitute exercise for the smoking. Got an urge, get on the cycling machine, or treadmill, grab a dumbbell. Set aside all your cig money and treat yourself to a cruise after a couple years - Depending on whether we have a recession then, of course! I'm addicted to caffeine but if I knew that it was slowly killing me like nicotine, quitting wouldn't be a problem.

-- Guy Daley (, November 18, 1999.

Nikoli ... my friend, have you considered buying nicotine patches to wean you off the habit? They are about $28 for a week's supply (less if you buy in 2 week bulk). You spend the same and you get the same hit. And you can stay on them for months or years until you feel you are strong enough to stay off smokes.

As for the food pantries....blaming y2k planning is disengenuous as best. If Y2K is pantries will be GORGED with donations. Why is it our fault they can't provide turkey and trimmings for the holidays? What's wrong with a bowl of soup and bread?

Sheesh. Why not ask corporations to donate more. They get the tax break for it. We don't.

-- Me (, November 18, 1999.

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