Hungry politicians in the US capital are hard to find. There is hunger, in one of the most affluent areas in the country, almost unaffected by the worst recession since the Great Depression. But the ones who are going hungry are the homeless and the poor, in Washington, DC. Since 2007, the number of people asking for help just to be able to eat has increased by 25 percent, local charity agencies say.
Even as the US economy is slowly recovering, volunteers are worried about those excluded from prosperity.
One of them told us: “What I’m seeing? I’m seeing more families. I’m seeing more women coming out with their children, I’m seeing more of that, where there were all just men (before)… Ma’am, did you get a sandwich?”
The food comes from retailers, distributors or private donors.
Another volunteer said: “Food that’s left over goes to a women’s shelter, and more and more of the women who are there are in that teenage-to-young-adult range.”
The Washington Capital Area Food Bank is run by 130 staff. Partners include soup kitchens, homeless shelters and faith-based organisations.
The bank’s Communications Coordinator Dylan J. Menguy told euronews: “The Food Bank is necessary in our nation’s capital because in this region there are proximately 680,000 individuals who are at risk of hunger. This is one of the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest nation in the world, and yet we still see people coming to our doors every day who are in need of food assistance.”
Among those in need are 200,000 DC area children.
Food security activists like to quote the president from four decades ago, Richard Nixon: “That malnutrition should persist in a land such as ours is embarrassing. Something like the very honour of American democracy is involved.”
Our Washington correspondent, Stefan Grobe, said: “Each year, more than 18,000 volunteers help to feed those who suffer from hunger in the capital of the richest country in the world. These volunteers put compassion and solidarity first. It is this attitude that makes America strong – when government fails.”