Report: Food banks serving more
While a U.S. Census report released today shows that poverty is easing and the economy may be bottoming out, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank reports that the hunger continues to be a growing problem, especially among people just above the poverty line.
The Food Bank is serving on average more than 120,000 people each month, a 16 percent increase over last year, and many of those seeking food assistance are still feeling the aftershocks of the recession, struggling with unemployment, underemployment or slightly less earnings. Since 2007, earnings have declined by more than 8 percent.
“The Census report revealed that the median household income has dropped four consecutive years,” said Larry Zippin, CEO of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, referring to the annual American Communities Survey. “What we’ve learned from many of our clients is that this is having a deep and lasting impact on their lives. While wages are diminishing, the price of fuel, food and other basic necessities are increasing significantly. And that’s when they need the Food Bank and our network of 250 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to fill in the gap.”
More than 46 million Americans lived in poverty in 2011, statistically no different than in 2010. However, that follows three consecutive years of increases in the poverty rate. One group expected to feel the affects of poverty and food insecurity the most are children. The Census survey found that 700,000 more children fell into poverty in 2011.
“Poverty and food insecurity have lasting effects on children’s ability to grow into productive, healthy adults,” Zippin said. “That’s why our after-school feeding programs for children are all the more vital.”
More than 4 in 10 people served by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank are children. Through four after-school feeding programs the Food Bank provided more than 7,500 children at risk of hunger with meals and snacks last year.
About the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Founded in 1981, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is the largest organization alleviating hunger in western and central Virginia. Headquartered in Verona, VA, the Food Bank serves 25 counties and nine cities through distribution centers in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Winchester and Verona. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank distributes more than 20 million pounds of food annually to 120,000 people each month through a network of 250 community partners – food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools, churches and other non-profit groups.
The Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, a national food bank association that supports 202 food banks across the United States.
For more information, visit www.brafb.org.