Food-stamp aid swells amid criticism

(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post) – Gerri Magruder, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry at the First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights, is pictured at the Capitol Area Food Bank. We try to shop very close to the distribution day so the perishables would not spoil, said Nwaneri, who hands out food on the first Saturday of every month. The Maryland pastor is part of a network of more than 500partner agencies that distribute 45 million pounds of food to more than 500,000 people across the Washington area each year. And although the distribution includes bread, cereal and canned goods, there is increasing focus among church food banks to supply fresh vegetables and meat for the good health of those in need. Fresh food thats the key to lowering high blood pressure and diabetes, said Jeri Bailey, director of the food pantry at the Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who was at the food bank the same day as Nwaneri. We prepare bags for 130families a week that includes a meat, fresh greens, canned goods and other items, Bailey said. But the distribution of fresh food means extra attention must be paid to ensuring that the donated perishables dont spoil. Nearly 36 million tons of food were wasted nationally in 2011, said Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank. Roman recently helped organize a summit in Alexandria to address how local churches and organizations can reduce food spoilage. Participants included Ben Simon, founder of the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland; Elise H.

In August, Our Father’s House of Refuge began a regular free community food giveaway, distributing upward of more than 45,000 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables and nonperishable food via the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to needy residents in and around Eustis. “I’m so grateful for it,” Perry said. “There are a lot of people like me that are caught in the middle.” Pictures: Child stars then and now Last month, the ministry distributed food at Family Bible Church on East Orange Avenue. An October date couldn’t be worked out, but another giveaway is planned for November, said ministry founder Pete Custodio, who also operates a Food Bank Wednesdays event at the rear of Tip Tops screen printing at 100 S. Bay St. Custodio also runs a transition house for the homeless at 504 E. Orange Ave, where he also leads a 7 p.m. worship service and potluck dinner each Sunday. Plenty of need With each passing week and month, said Custodio, who founded the faith-based nonprofit three years ago, the lines get longer and the faces get less familiar. But Petty and others are just the kind of folks the New York City native was hoping to reach those who don’t get public assistance or little, if they do and are either unemployed or living paycheck to paycheck. “I see different faces each time now,” said Custodio, 43. “We help 90 to 100 people on Wednesday and our last monthly food distribution had nearly 300 people turn out.” Diabetic Josephine Brinkley said she receives just $79 a month in food stamps, which barely pays for basic staples such as milk and bread, let alone meat and vegetables. “The free food helps me fill in the gap,” said Brinkley, who also visits the food bank each Wednesday. “He really tries to help people in this community.” The Rev.

Stretch your food budget

Photo: Dominic Bonuccelli, Rick Steves’ Europe This fish-and-chips shop in Pitlochry, Scotland, is typical of the… A roadside vendor prepares street food in in the old Delhi area of New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan, Bloomberg A roadside vendor prepares street food in in the old Delhi area of… A worker shows the McBaguette, the French ‘baguette’ sold by US fast food giant McDonald’s in their French outlets on April 10, 2012 at a McDonald’s restaurant in Paris. Photo: Eric Piermont, AFP/GettyImages 2012 A worker shows the McBaguette, the French ‘baguette’ sold by US… Font Page 1 of 1 Oslo recently overtook Tokyo as the most expensive city in the world. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. The last time I was in Oslo, a plain cup of coffee cost $4. Beer, while very good, was $8 a glass. Whether you’re in an outlandishly expensive country or just want to save money, there are plenty of strategies for stretching your food budget in Europe. Here are some tips: Ethnic restaurants: These places usually offer the cheapest hot meals in town. Almost every night I was in Oslo, I found myself walking down a street called Gronland into the immigrant district for food that was both spicy and affordable. Throughout wealthy northern Europe, immigrant communities labor at subsistence wages.

Its available. I think its a valuable service. To obtain food stamps, a households gross (pre-tax) income cannot exceed 130 percent of the federal poverty level. A single person with a monthly gross income of $1,245 or less is eligible; for a family of four, the income limit is $2,551 a month. The average benefit is about $130 per person or $270 per household each month. Matt Habash, president and CEO of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, said the growth of the food-stamp program in recent years staved off disaster for the unemployed, seniors and the working poor. Ohios enrollment has increased by about 75 percent since 2007. At the end of the day, Id say, Thank God it was there, Habash said. Pat Bebo, head of the Community Nutrition Program in the Ohio State University Extension, said the food-stamp program grows and declines in relation to the economy. Now, in this economy, we have an underemployment problem, she said. About 70 percent of the people who get SNAP benefits have at least one person in the household with a job. The low-wage jobs havent taken people off the program. Habash thinks criticism of food assistance is misplaced. People want a silver-bullet solution for problems that are complex and long-term, he said. When it goes on long enough, they tend to blame the victim. Many of the people Keller meets each week, like Postlethwaite, had been in the program and need to recertify or enroll again. Others are new and had no idea they were eligible. That happens a lot, especially when I work in Delaware County, Keller said.