There is a shockwave coming that once it hits this country, people are going to be screaming about why they were not warned. There is soon to be major price increases in most food products. Wheat and soybean prices have surged to records, corn prices hit a 12-year high this year and rice prices have doubled in the past year to levels not seen in a decade. Meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products prices have also dramatically increased.
Food prices in general increased 4% this past year, and will easily go up that much this year. For the first time, processed food prices are increasing rapidly and not just grains and fresh products. Although farmers are rejoicing in the record breaking prices for their commodities, the rest of us will soon be feeling the pinch in our budgets.
Wheat used to average around $3 per bushel for years. It is close to $10 now and could go up more. Due to the demand for fuel, corn prices have gone through the roof. Very little of the corn grown is the sweet corn eaten by families nearly every night. The vast majority of corn is either fed to animals or turned into fuel.
Corn takes much out of the soil. Corn should be rotated and only planted every other year. But, if the price of corn keeps rising and the demand keeps rising along with it, farmers will be tempted to plant corn yearly and risk stripping the soil of valuable nutrients. In the farm belt, corn and soybeans are alternated on thousands of farms. Wheat is predominantly a product grown in a huge swath from Texas to North Dakota.
The United Nations recently announced cutbacks on delivery of grain to the poorest of nations, and what shipments are getting through have a dramatically raised price tag. If the largest governing body and relief agency in the world is having problems locating and distributing food at a reasonable price, what is going to happen to the countless charities who do the same domestically?
Price increases in raw or fresh products are common place and do not cause much of a stir; but when prices start increasing dramatically for processed food products, then people will wake up in a hurry and take notice. When most of the products that sit on all the shelves at the grocery store start seeing rapid increases in price, then the weekly grocery bill will rise up and slap families in the face.
Not a week goes by where I don’t stand in utter amazement at the prices of things in the grocery store. Never have I seen products such as eggs and cheese as high as they have been for some time now. I know that soon those prices will retreat and the price of milk and butter will skyrocket; for that is how the program is set up. But, with the sky high price of fresh produce at this time of year and the ridiculous prices for meat; what exactly is left to buy at a reasonable price that is remotely “good for you”?
For years, when the price for fresh food got too high, people fell back on canned, frozen and other “packaged” food to survive. Stories of people living on cans of beans and boxes of macaroni and cheese were not fabricated. People with little available to them financially learn to live on what is cheap. But, what happens if the price of “packaged and processed” food goes up dramatically? Where then is the “cheap” food?
Food pantries and other charitable organizations which distribute food to those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder depend on processed foods for the vast majority of their supplies. They do not have the means to store and provide fresh produce and refrigerated products. Most of what is distributed is canned or boxed goods received from wholesalers and processors because either the expiration date is getting near or they were overstocked. Many canned and boxed products which have passed the expiration date or are damaged make it into shipments that go overseas.
Due to raw product shortages and/or price increases, the availability of products at reduced prices is dwindling. Add on the incredible transportation costs due to the price of gasoline and especially diesel, and the pool of available food products for food banks and pantries is shrinking rapidly. The result of these factors is reduced supply available for those who need it most and a dramatic rise in the cost of obtaining what supplies are available.
The impact of the upcoming food supply crisis will be felt by everyone who shops for food at the grocery store, all who eat out on a regular basis and especially those who depend on the charity of others to survive. The days of passing the buck and shifting the blame are quickly ending. Either we find new and innovative ways to provide food for those involved in the distribution of it to those in genuine need, or we will have to face the unthinkable in this country; people literally starving to death.
Do we really want the United States of America to become the end point for other country’s charities? Do we really want the sad faces of sick and under nourished children in this country to be plastered on posters in Europe with lines urging them to “Feed the starving children in America”? Oh but these poor people just need to get a job and pay for their own food. What if they already are working two jobs? What if they are 80 years old trying to live on $300 per month Social Security? What if they have disabling diseases and lost their insurance because their employer went bankrupt?
Oh, but they can get food stamps and they can eat like a king. Try living for a month on food stamps and see how “regal” you feel. Am I trying to make you feel guilty? You bet I am. We in America need to awake and realize that crazed wild animals sit just outside our door. The animals of starvation and malnutrition are no longer confined to Africa and Asia; they have migrated to this country and are ready to pounce upon those who for one reason or another cannot help themselves.
It is not the government’s job to feed the hungry. It is the responsibility of the church. It is not the government’s job to help the helpless find their way to respectability again. It is the responsibility of those who claim to live according to the Lord Jesus Christ’s dictates. Because those entrusted with the “welfare” of the poor have failed to do their job, the government and huge secular humanitarian agencies have had to step in and attempt through pure socialism to provide for those without.
For all the Christians out there screaming about their tax dollars being wasted to take care of poor people; if your tithes and offerings would be used correctly in your church, your tax dollars could be used in other places. It is very sad to see how the mentality of many Christians has become the very definition of hypocrisy and selfishness. It is fine to pay taxes to a government who spends them on a strong military and handing out gift checks to people making plenty of money; but it is wrong for either the government or your church to use money to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide medical aid to the sick?
I think people who think this way need to re-read Isaiah 58 and see once again what the true fast of the Lord really amounts to. I thank God for what many are trying to do in their churches, but for everyone trying to practice charity and help, there are ten who could care less or just want to judge and condemn those who have fallen through the cracks of our welfare system and who teeter on the brink of complete and catastrophic disaster.
I am all for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but words cannot fill the stomach of one who hasn’t eaten in a week. I am all for providing places of worship which enable Christians to fellowship with each other, but such fellowship rarely reaches out to the poor and homeless man on the street who only last year had a management job at a huge company. I am all for sending billions of dollars of aid to starving and hurting people in Africa and Asia, but I feel it vitally important to “let charity begin at home”. We need to make sure our own poor and hungry families are being fed before we ship all our resources elsewhere.
Please, before it is too late, think about stepping up and giving to organizations whose sole intent is to give to those in need. Please, when at the grocery store checkout lane and the box to give to the local food pantry looks you in the eye, put something in the box instead of “hoping” the next person will. Please, when the Boy Scouts leave a grocery bag on your porch, think about filling it with some of your extra canned goods. Please, when you see the opportunity to give, will you honestly consider giving a little to help someone who just might have been your ex-neighbor whose house was foreclosed a few months ago? You never know.