Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

For Hungry Families, the Rising Cost of Thanksgiving is a Burden

Photo by Flickr user St0rmz 

As we sit down and give thanks for our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, we must also remember to be thankful that we are able to afford the dinner itself. In 2011, families continued to face job losses and a stagnant economy. Many in Congress, intent on cutting the deficit, are looking to cut important assistance programs. Despite these difficult realities, food prices continue to rise, and Thanksgiving may be unaffordable for many struggling families this year.

A new survey from the National Farm Bureau calculated how much a Thanksgiving dinner would cost in different geographic areas, and pooled the results. They estimated the cost of a 10-person dinner to be $49.20. That’s a $5.73 increase over last year, or a 13 percent bump.  Over the past five Thanksgivings, the cost has risen nearly 30 percent. The holiday marking the beginning of the season of giving may become a holiday where many families are left behind.

Much of this price increase comes from the rising cost of healthier foods. The centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal -- the turkey -- costs 22 percent more than last year. Hungry families want to eat balanced nutritious meals, but the high cost of protein makes this incredibly difficult. The high price of turkey reflects the higher costs of protein across the board. For example, dairy products cost 9 percent more than they did one year ago. Furthermore, the prices of meat and egg products are now 7.4 percent higher. These rising costs are particularly hard on families with a very limited food budget, like those on SNAP (formerly food stamps).

The Farm Bureau survey finds that it costs about $5.73 per person to feed 10 people a basic Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, the average SNAP recipient only gets about $1.50 a meal. Even worse, SNAP benefits have not increased fast enough to keep up with these swiftly rising food prices.

One year ago, a family may have been able to buy more with their slim allotment than they are today. Despite these rising food prices, many in Congress want to cut SNAP benefits even further. One-in-seven households is already struggling to put food on the table. We can clearly see that many families are suffering in this economy while food prices rise. With no end to these trends in sight, now is clearly not the time to cut these important programs when we join our friends and family to celebrate gratitude this week.

Ben-d'avanzoBen D'Avanzo is the Mimi Meehan Fellow at Bread for the World.



« While We Feast, Africa Prepares for Hunger Season Abandonment in the Midst of Abundance: Protecting Poor and Hungry People »


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