These days, millions of American families are struggling to keep up with rising cost of everyday goods like food, fuel, clothing and school supplies. Unfortunately, wages have stagnated or even declined relative to the overall inflation rate. In fact, the closely-watched "median household net worth" statistic has shown a clear decline in the purchasing power of the typical American family since the start of the 21st century. Coupled with rising consumer debt, shrinking savings reserves and anemic job growth, this has had a significant negative impact on the broader economy. Despite the best efforts of public-sector organizations and private businesses, relief is elusive for far too many hard-working folks.
If you're struggling to put food on your family's table and worry about losing your car or home, you may be able to find help from any number of well-meaning sources. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to locate the proper benefactor. Many of the charitable organizations that provide cash-poor families with groceries, shelter and transportation are under-capitalized and understaffed. Many don't put on robust advertising campaigns or operate during regular business hours. Even worse, some of these organizations lack basic online presences. If you conduct an online search for food banks and family shelters in your area, you might miss a significant number of potential targets.
Fortunately, some organizations are more visible than others. More often than not, these organizations receive some form of funding or operational assistance from state and local governments. In addition, the federal government operates an emergency food assistance program that's tied in with its ongoing farm-price stabilization operation. If you're looking for free or reduced-cost food from a trusted source, you should take advantage of one of these programs at your earliest convenience.
The most popular food bank program is the aptly-named Community Supplemental Food Program. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this program is designed to provide low-income or transient families with free or reduced-cost food staples on an ongoing basis.
It's important to note that certain individuals may be ineligible to receive assistance from the Community Supplemental Food Program. In order to qualify for free food, you'll need to meet certain income requirements. While these fluctuate from year to year, they typically fall close to the federal poverty line. Additionally, you'll need to prove that you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or responsible for the welfare of a child under the age of six. Certain elderly individuals may also qualify for this program.