Saturday, April 26, 2008

Food for Thought

The high cost of food is now impacting the area food banks, and other purveyors to the needy. As the NY Daily News points out: "Out-of-control food prices have risen so steeply that a charity feeding 1.3 million New Yorkers is in crisis. The numbers of hungry people relying on the Food Bank for New York City have risen by 24% in only one year as costs for basics - including bread, eggs and milk - have skyrocketed. Prices are so high that donors who give the bank food have had to cut back."

As we have commented, this food crisis will soon roil the political process, as government looks to address the skyrocketing cost of groceries. This issue does, of course, intersect with the problem of vanishing local supermarkets-the first exacerbating the second as the availability of healthy affordable food diminishes all around.

So we're gonna have to see some kind of political response to the crisis, and the increase in food stamp availability should be seen as a companion to the government assurance that local grocery stores can continue to operate profitably in the city's neighborhoods. Large supermarkets that are able to effectively discount are crucial, otherwise the only alternative are higher priced bodegas that are no substitute for large food discounters.

The crisis is real and, as the News points out: "U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show eggs cost 25% more now than they did a year ago. Milk and other dairy products jumped 13%. "We'll find ways of getting food," said Cabrera. "We'll just have to be very creative and find new ways to rescue food that would otherwise be wasted. "But if food prices keep rising like this, we're going to have to hope for more help from the government."

We're waiting for real political leadership here in the city. So far the mayor has been silent, but if he can focus his attention on this issue then perhaps we can get some action. Here's something that a tad more important than charging commuters a fee to enter the CBD.