Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hunger in Focus

excerpt from
 Hunger Hits America's Bread Basket on Yahoo! News

by Viji Sundaram and Ketaki Gokhale, New America Media

Mon Aug 11, 6:03 PM ET

MENDOTA, California, Aug 11 (New America Media) - Early each morning these days, the manager of Mendota Food Center on Derrick Avenue in this small community west of Fresno, boxes his aging produce, which he would normally throw away, and leaves it at the back of his store.

Within an hour, the boxes are all gone.

"It shows there's hunger in Mendota, and people will take anything," said Mayor Robert Silva, who manages the grocery store. Some other grocery stores are doing likewise, he said.

Mendota, whose population of 9,000 is 95-percent Hispanic, looks today like a small dilapidated town in a developing nation and not part of "America's bread basket." The economic downturn, state-enforced water rationing, poor rains, and unemployment have all come to a head here. Now, hunger is sweeping through the community.

Many farmers have been forced to cut back on planting. Some have even walked away from the field crops they had planted.

"Some people are abandoning their fields; they just don't water them," said Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of Fresno County Farm Bureau.

According to a study commissioned by the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, water cuts could result in an $84.6-million economic loss for the region. Experts are predicting a $33.9-million loss in farm income and a loss of more than 700 jobs.

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