In Tyler, the Pearsons are just scraping by. When Melinda Pearson's husband lost his job at Goodyear Tire last year, her family had no where to turn but the local food bank. "It's scary because you're used to being able to pay for meals," she said.
"I have met with my agencies, and they are reporting that they are seeing people they have never seen before," said Robert Bush, the president of Tyler's East Texas Food Bank. "They are seeing many middle-class people who, for whatever reason, are on the margins and needing help for the first time."
Likewise, the San Antonio Food Bank was surprised last week when it advertised an opening for an entry-level position.
“Close to 200 resumes came in,” said Eric Cooper, the food bank's CEO. “There were a couple of CPAs, a couple of MBAs, and many had bachelor's degrees. People were educated to the hilt.”
That food bank reported a 79% increase in food stamp applications from 2007 to 2008, and a 27% jump in the number of families who received emergency food in the same period.