Add another institution to those getting squeezed by America's economic crunch: soup kitchens.
Across the country, groups that provide food to people in need are scrambling to make up for a loss of government-provided surplus items as commodity prices have soared. Surpluses have dropped as some commodities, like corn, are being turned into alternative fuels and others are going overseas as the weak dollar makes U.S. exports more palatable to other countries.
At the same time, food banks and soup kitchens say that people struggling with mortgage woes, rising gas prices and layoffs are increasingly turning to them for help. [...]
When his family ran out of food last week, Daniel Wheelus went to Prodisee Pantry, in Spanish Fort, Ala., for the first time. He received a full shopping cart, including a ham, that he said would last a week for himself, his wife and three children, ages 16, 12 and 10.
"They even gave my boy some clothes for school," he said. "They really, really helped."
Mr. Wheelus, 39 years old, earns $13.60 an hour working in an oil field 45 miles from his home. But it costs him $30 a day to fill up the Dodge Dakota pickup he drives to work. His utility bills have doubled to $400 a month from last year, he says. He says he lost his house in October after missing mortgage payments following knee surgery and now owes back taxes.
Permit an all-oil, all-war, all-crony agenda in the White House and Congress, and this is what you get.