Millions of low income Americans forced to choose between heat and hunger this winter
Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, today expressed concern that millions of low-income families will have a tough time choosing between paying high heating bills and providing food for their families this winter.
“The high cost of heat this winter due to prolonged and brutal cold spells will strain many household budgets and send more people to food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency-food charities,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. “This spike in heating costs will make life even more difficult for the 47 million Americans who are losing $5 billion in food stamp benefits in fiscal year 2014, due to the expiration of the temporary ARRA boost.”
The US Energy Information Administration said that it expects arise in gas prices of nearly 14 percent above last winter. This winter is expected to be the coldest in 20 years for much of the nation, and has shattered records in at least 50 cities and communities across the country, according to the National Weather Service.
About 46 percent of Feeding America food bank client households report choosing between paying for food and paying for heating fuel or other utilities, according to Hunger in America 2010, Feeding America’s report on emergency food distribution.
“When heating costs go up, it is often difficult for low-income families to put food on the table. They often must turn to their local Feeding America food banks, many of which will face a drop in donations following the holidays,” Aiken said.
“Many Americans are struggling to get by from month to month. Unemployment is still hovering around 7 percent and, although there are signs that the economy is improving, low-wage workers are usually the last people to benefit when things get better,” said Aiken.