On Tuesday, roughly 300 hungry people gathered at the Laney Supermarket in Augusta, Georgia, hoping to take some food the closing supermarket put out for the public to take as police were carrying out an eviction order for the supermarket. Instead of allowing poor citizens to enjoy the food or transporting it to a community pantry, […]
On Tuesday, roughly 300 hungry people gathered at the Laney Supermarket in Augusta, Georgia, hoping to take some food the closing supermarket put out for the public to take as police were carrying out an eviction order for the supermarket.
Instead of allowing poor citizens to enjoy the food or transporting it to a community pantry, Richmond county police ensured the food were thrown away as it was transported to a nearby landfill. The problem is indicative of a larger crisis of food insecurity across the United States, in which one in eight Americans rely upon food assistance from food banks or charitable organizations.
The eviction proceedings on Tuesday follows a court-ordered eviction notice that was served Feb. 13. The tenant, Il Ki Choi, of Sun and Food LLC, moved the contents of the supermarket into the parking lot ahead of the eviction. Residents assumed that the
items were free for the taking only to be told by police that the all of the food was bound for the landfill.
“It’s a shame that they are just throwing all this stuff away and not even donating it to a shelter or anything,” said Tiffany Serles, a local member of the community observing the police action. Officers insisted that throwing away the food was required to prevent fighting among people scrambling to take their share of the supplies.
“There is the potential to have people fighting and causing problems,” said Lt. Calvin Chew. “That’s not something we want.” There were no arrests, but hundreds left the location hungry and upset that the food was wasted.
“We could have gotten some of this stuff and done something special for the kids this weekend,” said Joseph Young, director of a youth mentoring program. The problems in Richmond County are a microcosm of a much larger national problem.
Feeding America, an organization working with 200 member food banks across the United States, reports a surge in the number of citizens relying upon free food programs in recent years. According to statistics published in 2010, Feeding America continues to provide food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children each year.
This represents an increase of 46 percent from 2006, when the organization was feeding 25 million Americans. Currently, one in eight Americans now rely on Feeding America for food and groceries.
An even larger number of Americans live in a state of “food insecurity,” unsure where their next meal will come from. In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households — 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children.
Donations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Food Assistance program have declined in recent years despite the record need for healthy foods across the country. USDA donations dropped from 499 million pounds of food in 2010 to just 129 million in 2012.