One in ten Americans struggle with poverty
Rafael Blanco, an immigrant from El Salvador, lives in a homeless shelter. He says charity is what keeps him alive.
“I would like to tell President Bush that everything is more expensive, especially food. People who live under the bridges have nothing to eat,” says Rafael.
But Rafael is not the only one for whom life has turned into a daily struggle. 28 million Americans have turned to the government to help them put food on their tables. The number of people claiming food stamps has surpassed the record set in 1994.
The worst hit are turning to churches and food banks.
“We are serving a lot more people. One thing we are finding is that clients can't make it to the end of the month,” says Ted Pringle, Director of Food and Clothing, Washington.
And Alice, the single mother of five, is one of them. With no fixed income she says feeding her family has become a challenge. Her friends and family don't know she's turned to charity, but she is not ashamed of it.
“Everyone needs help once in a while to help you get on your feet,” says Alice.
Most people have to make radical changes to their diets in order to make ends meet. Evette Davis doesn't have a job and lives on her own. She says she can only afford to buy the things most necessary to keep her from starving
“I try to buy fruit and to stay away from meats as they are very expensive. I am considering becoming a vegetarian,” says Evette.
But while demand to feed the hungry has gone up, donations are dwindling.
Rising gas prices have made it more expensive to deliver food to pantries. In the first three months of the year, food costs jumped 5 percent.
And as Americans struggle with rising inflation, lawmakers are not moving quick enough
One possible solution is to increase benefits to those most in need by up to 15 percent. But the idea, initially part of President Bush's economic stimulus plan, was dropped.
Advocates hope things will change, but until than poor Americans will have to handle it on their own.