The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Long lines at food pantries

Dec 1, 2008

In Montebello, near Los Angeles, nearly 5,000 people showed up at a food bank on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Organizers were surprised by the turnout, which was more than twice the number they had expected.

In the Los Angeles area, demand for food aid from local food banks has increased by more than 40% since last year, according to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. The trend certainly is repeated elsewhere in the country – with a surge of 33% in Chicago, and 25% in Dallas, two other cities where such statistics were available. Thirty-six million Americans, nearly one in eight, go to bed hungry, uncertain about their next meal, according to Feed America.

Many of the people waiting in line in Montebello were “people who just lost their job, are trying to pay their mortgage, or tapping into their 401(k),” said a food bank spokesman.

Not a surprise, for sure. Across the country, companies are laying off tens of thousands of workers. They are reducing hours, pay and pension benefits. As adjustable rates on mortgages kick in, homeowners are losing their homes. Working families are being forced to choose between mortgage payments and food.

Hunger – another product of a capitalist system that long ago wore out its welcome.