‘These are our angels’
Food banks are doing “a great job” at helping to feed the rural poor, says the lead researcher on a study of anti-hunger efforts in such areas.
“There has been a perception that food pantries are mainly located in urban settings, while rural communities are isolated places where food assistance is not being provided to people in need,” said University of Illinois economist Craig Gundersen in a news release outlining the findings. “We didn’t find that to be true. In fact, we find that, based on certain measures, food banks are doing a great job reaching rural areas.”
The study, “Food Insecurity across the Rural-Urban Divide: Are Counties in Need Being Reached by Charitable Food Assistance?” was published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Measures included data collected by Feeding America, a national nonprofit network of 200 food banks, in the organization’s “Map the Meal Gap” analysis of food insecurity rates and its “Hunger in America” survey of pantries.
(For information about how counties in our Archdiocese fared in “Map the Meal Gap,” click here.)
“Due to the work of ‘Map the Meal Gap,’ many food banks have become more cognizant of needs in their area and have been reaching out to fill the need,” Gundersen said. “’Hunger in America’ helps tell the story of that reach. They’ve been doing a lot of novel things with mobile food pantries, for example.”
Charitable initiatives are critically assisting federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), he said.
In our Archdiocese, rural outreaches include Food for All, a mobile pantry serving five rural counties. The ministry is made possible by benefactors of One Faith, One Hope, One Love.
Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, which partners with social services and churches to operate Food for All, posted a video last week in which a couple of Adams County clients explained the need for the program.
“People at my age and older have a hard time with less income than what they was used to,” said a client named Retha. “And people don’t realize that the older you get you have more health problems, and that costs more money, and if it wasn’t for people like this and people that help people we would be very hurt, and these are our angels because they take care of us.”
Gary, a client who lost his job and has a family, had this to say:
“There’s a lot of people that either makes too much to get into the Food Stamp program or SNAP program and people like that, we struggle. And I’m still classified, like me, I’m still classified as making too much money even though I’m off of work right now and I’m not eligible for SNAP or food stamps. So I struggle because I don’t have no income and I got a family I have to think about.
“So these programs that help our community or help people [to] not worry about where their next meal’s coming from, these programs help those families that are really in need. So that’s why these programs are very important and that’s why people needs to donate or organizations needs to help with these programs to help people not struggle on not having a next meal or wondering if they’re going to eat today or tomorrow or the next day.”
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