When The Costs Of Food And Gas Converge

This story appeared on the CBS Evening News.
In Platteville, Colo., you'd think corn farmer Dave Eckhardt struck gold.

The price of the crop he sells, up 66 percent in a year. But that's not the only number he's looking at.

"We're spending twice as much on fuel this year as we did last year," Eckhardt said.

So, I said, "you're making more on corn, but you're also spending a lot more on fuel?"

"Right," he said. "I guess in a sense it caught us off guard that it went up as much as it did."

And it's really going to cut into profits?

"It will," he said.

Farmers like Eckhardt are at the center of a growing controversy over ethanol - the fuel that runs on corn. Critics say too much corn - one third of this year's entire harvest - will go into fuel, which boosts food prices.

I asked Mark Sponsler of the Colorado Corn Growers Association whether he thinks the American farmer is a punching bag right now.

"It feels like it!" he said.

They risk their entire livelihood, they risk their assets every year to get blamed for uh, everything conceivable right now.

While that debate simmers, groups like "Volunteers of America" suffer.

"Absolutely the highest cost to deliver a meal in the 29 years I've been here is right now," said Jim White of Volunteers of America.

In Denver, White's workers deliver 1,800 hot lunches every day.

"What we're dealing with here are a class of people with very little margin for error," said volunteer driver Larry Moskow.

They need this?

"They need this, exactly," Moskow said.

But between the cost of gas, and raw supplies, the program is starving. Three hundred people who want food can't get it. Emma Dela Cruz is one of the lucky ones.

I asked her what she would do if she didn't get the meals.

"Then I wouldn't eat," she said.

"It's intolerable to have elderly people who have given so much of their life to all … and to not be able to give them a simple meal at home," White said.

  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.