Hunger in Western North Carolina
Hunger is a condition of poverty. Hunger has a price. Medical problems, learning difficulties, headaches and fatigue are all the result of not having enough to eat.
MAP THE MEAL GAP REVEALS USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT FOOD INSECURITY IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA COUNTIES.
Hunger In America 2010: WNC info Official Press Release
Asheville, NC (February 3, 2010) A landmark study released yesterday from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, reports that 106,600 different Western North Carolinians (one in six) receive emergency food each year through MANNA FoodBank’s network of emergency food providers. The local findings gathered by MANNA are largely aligned with national and North Carolina state data. Hunger in America 2010 is the first study to capture the significant connection between the recent economic downturn and increased emergency food assistance.
Many of the people served by Feeding America food banks report they are struggling with unemployment, difficult choices between food and other basic necessities, and the pressures of healthcare costs. Across the US, 1 in 8 people received food help from a food pantry, soup kitchen or shelter served by a Feeding America food bank, while the WNC data shows 1 in 6 sought that help.
Important data from the MANNA FoodBank study includes:
- 106,600 different people in Western North Carolina seek food assistance in a single year from emergency food programs served by MANNA FoodBank.
- That’s 1 in 6 of our WNC neighbors
- 33,000 are children
- 9,600 are elderly
- Of all the households served by MANNA’s partner agencies, 75% face hunger. Of those households with children, 84% face hunger.
- Only 45% of the client households served by MANNA FoodBank receive Food and Nutrition Services benefits (formerly known as food stamps). It is likely that many more are eligible.
- Western North Carolinians seeking emergency food assistance often face tough choices between paying for food or other essentials such as fuel, housing, and healthcare.
- 36% of households seeking emergency food assistance do have at least one employed adult. Working people in Western North Carolina are struggling to make ends meet and while employed, many are underemployed, part time, or seasonal.
“The information in this study confirms stories we hear every day about hardship and hunger in Western North Carolina,” says MANNA FoodBank’s Executive Director Kitty Schaller. “Anecdotes only get us so far. These numbers help to paint the true picture of need in these difficult times – and the response by nonprofits that provide food assistance.”
The United States Department of Agriculture reported in November 2009 that an estimated 49 million people, including 17 million children, are at risk of hunger across the nation. Hunger in America 2010 reinforces the dramatically increasing food assistance in the United States.
Jim Peterson, an agency monitor volunteer for MANNA FoodBank, says “as I visit MANNA’s network of frontline agencies, I know they face organizational challenges. Hunger in America 2010 shows that in WNC, at least 70 percent of food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters report that they have at least one problem that threatens their ability to continue operating. Problems relating to funds and food supplies were the two most commonly cited threats.”
Hunger in America 2010 includes data collected from February through June, 2009. Mathematica, Inc., a highly reputable research organization, was contracted by Feeding America to conduct the study. MANNA staff and volunteers followed Mathematica’s explicit instructions, canvassing 16 counties and gathering information from hundreds of individuals about their requests for emergency food assistance.
Hunger in America 2010 reinforces the importance of MANNA FoodBank’s mission to involve, educate, and unite people in the work to end hunger in Western North Carolina. As the numbers of people who continue to request emergency food assistance grow, so too must MANNA FoodBank’s 315 partner agencies’ ability to handle this volume.