Walmart Says Food Stamp Shopping Spree Was ‘right Choice’

Food events in the Washington area

The Trussell Trust , which supports food banks that provide three days emergency supplies to people in need, said today 355,985 people had been helped between May and September this year, compared with 113,570 in the same period last year. It wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron requesting an inquiry. The level of food poverty in the U.K. is not acceptable. Its scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people, Trussell Trust Executive Chairman Chris Mould said in an e-mailed statement. The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks. Food prices have risen by 12.6 percent more than inflation over the past six years, outstripping wages, and higher energy prices are likely to see more people forced to choose between eating and heating this winter, the charity said. Food-bank clients are giving back food items that need cooking because they cant afford to turn on the electricity, the trust said. There are twice as many food banks as last year, accounting for some of the increase in demand, the trust said, though well-established food banks are also reporting that theyre helping more people. Welfare Overhaul An overhaul of the welfare system has led more people to seek help, the trust said, with 117,442 people referred to food banks by agencies including the health service, social workers and police because of delays in welfare payments compared with 35,597 last year. Camerons spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, said the increase had been driven by the government axing restrictions on officials referring people to food banks and reflected a British tradition of charitable help for the poor. Use of the facilities increased 10 times under the Labour government that left office in 2010, he added. Its this government that has lifted the block on job centers being able to point people in the direction of the type of additional assistance that food banks provide, Gray told reporters in London . The U.K. has a proud tradition of voluntary and charitable organisations providing additional support alongside the welfare system. The previous government stopped job centers, where job seekers register for unemployment benefit and seek work, issuing vouchers for food banks because they said other help was available and they could not provide consistent support as they were unevenly distributed around the country. Food-bank use increased from 2,814 people in 2005-2006 to 40,898 in 2009-2010, when Labour lost power, the Trussell Trust said.

Demand for food aid spikes in Britain

It’s getting worse.” WORRIES AHEAD OF WINTER Mould said that increasing numbers of people in Britain are living on incomes that are insufficient to cover the rising costs of food, gas and electricity, fuel, and transport. Disposable incomes have fallen, when adjusted for inflation, since the global financial crisis erupted in 2007-2008. But the price of necessities has risen gas and electricity costs are up 30 percent in real terms since 2007. The trust says many people this winter will choose between “eating and heating.” “People at food banks have started giving back food items that need cooking because they can’t afford to turn on the electricity,” the trust said in a statement. The British Red Cross announced last week it would have 30,000 volunteers help in a massive food drive at the end of November. The Red Cross hasn’t been involved in food distribution on a wide scale in Britain since World War II. IMPACT OF AUSTERITY The stress on the poor has increased since Britain’s coalition government, elected in 2010, imposed tough spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the debt. The government has cut welfare payments, forced many low-income residents to pay local government tax for the first time, and imposed a new fee for public housing tenants with spare bedrooms. Treasury chief George Osborne has acknowledged that the austerity has proven to be hard and that recovery is taking “longer than anyone hoped.” But the government insists the policies are a short-term necessity and that there is no evidence welfare reforms are causing people to go hungry. Among those struggling is Tim Day, 30, a graphic designer who is between jobs and visited one of the trust’s distribution centers at the United Reformed Church in Bromley on Tuesday. Between temporary work contracts, Day was grateful for a food supply that included orange juice, vegetables, and porridge.

19, 2013. Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images Walmart has no regrets about allowing a wild shopping spree at two of its Louisiana stores when an electronic glitch lifted the spending caps on the cards of food stamp recipients. “We know we made the right choice,” Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg told ABCNews.com today. The chain has no regrets even though Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services said food stamp recipients should have been limited to $50 each during the emergency and that Walmart will have to pay the difference. Lundberg declined to comment about how much the company may have lost or why it did not follow the emergency $50 limit. Read More: Walmart to Get Stuck With Most of Food Stamp Shopping Spree Courtesy KSLA.com Shelves in the Walmart store in Springhill, La., were cleared Saturday, when the store allowed purchases on EBT cards that didn’t show limits. Another Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said, “Our focus was to continue serving our customers.” Food stamp recipients jammed into Walmarts in Mansfield and Springhill Saturday when word of the glitch spread. Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said some customers were buying eight to ten grocery carts full of food. The store in Mansfield temporarily closed because of overcrowding and Mansfield Chief of Police Gary Hobbs said some shoppers left with up to eight carts of food and then went back for more. The food shelves were left bare and all the meat was sold as well, Lynd said.

www.lacuisineus.com . COOKING CLASS: Javier Angeles Beron teaches a session on Peruvian cuisine. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The class repeats Oct. 26. $65; $120 per couple. Gua-Rapo, 2039 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703-528-1500. latinconceptscatering.com . COOKING CLASS: Healthful-eating guru Juliette Tahar teaches techniques and recipes for broths and soupmaking, especially those for fall. 10 a.m.-noon. $25.