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Fake news

Posted By Russ Roberts On November 20, 2007 @ 8:47 am In Hunger,Media | Comments Disabled

At first, it seems like a very depressing story [1] (HT: Drudge) [2]

Operators of free food banks say they are seeing more working people
needing assistance. The increased demand is outstripping supplies and
forcing many pantries and food banks to cut portions.

Demand
is being driven up by rising costs of food, housing, utilities, health
care and gasoline, while food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers
are finding they have less surplus food to donate and government help
has decreased, according to Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of
the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.

Well, of course. With unemployment in double digits, incomes falling and the economy spiralling ever-downward—

But wait. Unemployment is low. Incomes are rising. The economy is doing well. That doesn’t mean  that everyone is doing well. But is really likely that the working poor in America are suddenly doing so much worse than before that food pantries are noticing long lines of hungry people that they weren’t prepared for?

Maybe the executive director of a group of food banks isn’t the best source of unbiased information. Is government help really down? When did that happen? Food donations down? Why? How did this story get written in the first place? Did a reporter call up a few food banks curious to see how it’s going? Or did Lisa Hamler-Fugitt send out a press release?

And if the story did originate with a reporter, can you imagine the food bank director responding to a question about the state of hunger with the answer–"We’ve got plenty of food. People are doing great. With the economy going so well, demand for our services are down. Have a great holiday season."

I think giving away food is a really good thing. I’m proud that my son and his classmates delivered home-made lasagnas to a local homeless shelter yesterday. I didn’t get to talk to him about it yet, but I suspect his insights into the current state of the hungry are about as reliable as those in this story. I’ll let you know after we talk tonight.

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[1] a very depressing story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071119/ap_on_re_us/food_pantries_shortage_2

[2] Drudge): http://www.drudgereport.com

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