This question hits home. There have been quite a few instances in the past year where my fiance and I have starved in order to feed our baby. People who have not experienced this situation would not understand the feeling of starvation without option. To look in your cabinets and see absolutely nothing but salt or food coloring after days of not eating would make any person not only desperate, but miserable. I do believe it is permissible to steal small quantities of food in this situation. I personally did not steal any food. But I wanted to.
Now, some can argue about getting a job, a better job, or going to a food pantry, etc.. But in reality, people in starvation situations are not starving out of laziness. A person doesn't just sit around for days and not eat. Also, food pantrys, at least around my area, require 2 forms of ID from each person in the family and proof of low income. This is just for a few cans of food perhaps. Next, just because a person has an illness does not mean they will get disability or state help. The assistance system is a wreck. The disability system is even more so. I won't use the bad economy always something a person can do to make some money, even if it is just $20. But disabled veterans and disabled (actually disabled) people who cannot work will not always get what is owed to them by the government for their contribution to our country through service, taxes, or both.
Anyways, I will end this by saying I only would agree with a small amount of food being stolen if a family got desperate enough. And before others try and put their morals and justifications against that, actually take a look at the systems in place. A supermarket will not suffer greatly if a couple cans of food and a box of cereal is stolen. They pay a fraction of what we are charged. Ignorance is bliss for some of you, but I prefer my eyes to be open.
In the extreme case that your family is starving and you won't eat unless you can steal something, then, fine, go ahead and steal, but, really, I think that most people have at least a little bit of compassion, and will just give some food to someone that is truly that desperate.
Stealing is stealing. Period. Simply because you are in need does not make it ok to steal from a working person. You don't get to choose when the rules apply to you and when they don't. If you need food, go to your local food kitchen and eat something or phone the Hunger Task Force.
No, I personally do not think that thievery or stealing to save one's family from starvation is permissible. One should not take anything from another person without asking. There are tons of charities out there to help in times of dire need and in certain situations instead of stealing from someone else.
It is not justifiable to steal from someone else, possibly affecting their family's welfare. Although it only seems natural to want to provide for your own family first, it should not be at another's expense. Honest ways of provision should be sought. It is never permissible to take what does not rightfully belong to you.