Professor Kevin Depew was discussing the continuing woes of housing as well as soup lines in today’s Five Things You Need to Know: Mortgage Woes Stubbornly Persist.

Let’s consider point number five, Soup Lines.

Where Are the Soup Lines?

In response to a recent piece on The Modern Stealth Depression, some of the outraged letters I received asked how in the world someone could claim we are entering a new depression when there are no soup lines, no starving people in the street. Well, the simple answer is that’s why it’s a stealth depression. Despite the rapid transfer of information across the globe, we still have a way of only seeing what we want to see.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, demand for food from the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank increased by 14% year-over-year in the first six months. At the same time, agencies that receive food are reporting an increase of 20% in the number of people being served. Food distribution at the food bank increased by 7% in the second quarter alone.

The figures are out there, you just have to dig beneath Paris Hilton residential ad spoofs to find them. In the Sarasota, Florida Herald Tribune today there’s an interview with Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of the nation’s largest food bank network. The network feeds 25 million people annually through food banks around the country.

Escarra says a survey of the network’s 200 food banks in January showed a 20% increase in demand over the prior year. Escarra estimates there are 35 million Americans “living without knowing consistently where their next meal will come from.” Escarra said she expects this to be “pretty severe for the next 18 months at least.”

Ohio Food Bank Needs Rising

Let’s take a closer look at the articles Professor Depew referred to.

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting Food bank says need keeps rising.

Demand for food from the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is increasing rapidly. The food bank released statistics Wednesday showing that for the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year, food distributions increased by 14 percent.

At the same time, agencies that receive food are reporting an increase of 20 percent in the number of people being served. Food distribution at the food bank increased by 7 percent in the second quarter of the year compared with the first quarter, said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the food bank.

At the current rate of distributing food to area shelters and food cupboards, Flowers said, the agency could distribute 14 million pounds of food this year, compared with 12 million in 2007.

As a result, Flowers said this is “a historic and unprecedented time in the history of the anti-hunger movement.”

Sutton, who has volunteered at the food bank, spoke of the “newly poor” who are receiving help from food banks. She said she has heard of people who “used to be donors to the food bank and now are in need of services.”

“Almost daily, the number of people seeking food assistance continues to rise,” Flowers said.

For more on the food bank, go to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.

Insight Into Hungry U.S.

The Herald Tribune is reporting From food bank’s chief, insight into hungry U.S.

Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of the nation’s largest food bank network, stopped in Sarasota on Wednesday on a weeklong tour of Florida.

Escarra left her job as vice president of customer service at Delta Air Lines and took charge of America’s Second Harvest in 2006.

The network feeds 25 million people annually through food banks around the country. It distributes 2.2 billion pounds of food, enough to make it comparable to the largest grocery chains in the nation.

Q:How much has demand at food banks increased nationally, and who is visiting them?

ESCARRA:In January we surveyed our 200 food banks and demand was up 20 percent over last year. We’re seeing more and more people visiting food banks for the first time because they’ve lost their jobs or they’re not getting raises. They can’t afford vegetables or protein, the essentials of a good diet. Most of the people who come to food banks are on food stamps, but those are only $3 per person a day.

Q:On the network’s Web site, there is a lot of talk about “food insecurity.” What does that mean?

ESCARRA:There are 35 million Americans living without knowing consistently where their next meal will come from. I think that’s pretty stunning.

Where Are the Soup Lines?

In the Stealth Depression, food stamps and food banks have replaced soup lines. Florida, Ohio, and Michigan are already in a depression. More states will follow. Looks are deceptive. Just ask those foreclosed on, those with no job, or those working part time for economic reasons. It’s a stealth depression for the simple reason most don’t see it.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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