Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Local food pantries serving more clients in the recession

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Nearly 6,000 people every week in Porter and Lake counties are receiving emergency food assistance from a local pantry or soup kitchen.

That’s one of the findings of a study just released by the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana (FBNI) and Feeding America (FA), the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization.

Hunger in America 2010 is the first research study to capture the significant connection between the recent economic downtown and an increased need for emergency food assistance,” FBNI said. “The number of children and adults in need of food as a result of experiencing food insecurity has significantly increased. In Lake and Porter counties, more than 34.3 percent of client households are experiencing very low food security—or hunger—and 78.9 percent of client households with children are food insecure.”

Moreover, FBNI said, an estimated 5,800 people are receiving food assistance each week from a pantry, soup kitchen, or other agency served by the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.

“Nationally, more than one in three client households are experiencing very low food security, a 54-percent increase in the number of households compared to four years ago,” FA said. “An estimated 5.7 million people receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen or other agency served by one of Feeding America’s more than 200 food banks, including the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. This is a 27-percent increase over numbers reported in Hunger in America 2006.”

“We have found that 64 percent of our clients are living below the Federal Poverty Level,” FBNI Executive Director Angie Williams said. “Many of these people are being asked to choose between buying food and paying for other necessities like housing, utilities, fuel, and medical care. Even if you have a job that doesn’t mean you have enough money to put a meal on the table. In fact 25.5 percent of the households we serve have at least one adult who is working.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in November 2009 that an estimated 49 million people, including 17 million children, are at risk of hunger in this country.

Other findings from the Northwest Indiana report:

•26.1 percent of client households with seniors face very low food security.

•45.9 percent report having to choose between paying their rent or mortgage and buying food.

•24.6 percent report that someone in their household has no access to medical care.

•57.9 percent reporting having an unpaid medical or hospital bill.

•81 percent of pantries, 57 percent of soup kitchens, and 75 percent of shelters served by FBNI report increases in the number of clients served since 2006.

FBNI is located in Gary and supplies food to over 100 pantries and soup kitchens in Porter and Lake counties. Last year it distributed over 3.5 million pounds of food.

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Posted 2/5/2010




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