CBS Morning Show: Middle Class 'Facing Hunger'

     High food prices may be affecting middle-income families, but an anecdotal report on CBS’s “The Early Show” April 28 made the situation seem as if one family’s use of a food bank was “the new face of hunger.”

     CBS’s Priya David highlighted Pablo and Ada Melecio, a couple who recently lost their jobs and have elected to use a food bank to make ends meet. Ada Melecio said their “mortgage payments started falling behind and all the interest on that plus all the credit cards” were making their situation even worse.

     The report didn’t explain “all the credit cards” or discuss whether the Melecios were looking for new jobs, but implied that in order to find jobs, they would have to move.

     “They may have to move out of state, away from their adult children,” David said. She concluded: “Middle-income families are finding themselves financially stretched to a point when it’s tough to manage even the basics.”

     Things are bad for the Melecios, but a family in which both breadwinners have recently lost their jobs is not an accurate picture of the impact of higher food prices on the working middle class.

     “The Early Show” reported on increased use of food banks and food stamps and also pushed for more government “food assistance” to help out, implying that a farm bill “stuck in Congress” with a $1-billion price tag might be a cure.

     The report did not mention one of the major reasons food prices are so high: U.S. government mandates for ethanol, a gasoline additive made with corn that is also used in many foods. The shortage has caused a crisis across the globe, but it wasn’t long ago that the media and politicians were rallying behind the biofuel.

     Columnist Roger Hedgecock pointed out April 28 that ethanol is not the only reason for the food shortage, saying, “Demand for more and higher quality food from newly middle-class Indians and Chinese is another factor as is the cost of fertilizer, storage and transportation which in turn is driven up by the spike in oil prices.”