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Economy and Business

Ohio ranks 11th in food insecurity
Soup kitchens and food pantries see record number of kids at their facilities this summer. 

Jo Ingles

A new report shows one in six Ohioans worry about going hungry. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Lisa Hamler Fugitt of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks says food insecurity is a big problem in the buckeye state.

Listen to Hamler Fugitt and Ingles interview

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Hamler Fugitt - Ohio now ranks 11th nationally in low food security, meaning individuals are making choices from month to month about who eats and who doesn’t, meaning they lack sufficient resources to purchase food through the normal channels.

Ingles – And how does this compare with last year?

Hamler Fugitt – We improved slightly but again, one in six Americans, one in six Ohioans now are struggling with the inability to feed themselves and their families. One of the most startling findings of this is the rate of very low food security, meaning that people are putting their children to bed hungry and their children are skipping meals. That rate, over the past 15 years of food insecurity, has increased by nearly 90% and we now rank eighth in the nation in very low food security.

Ingles – Now we hear that Ohio unemployment rate is lower, that we are economically doing better but you are telling me that we are right in there with everyone else when it comes to food insecurity so what gives?

Hamler Fugitt – What we are seeing, now that the great recession has ended, an ongoing aftermath of the great recession, decades of wage suppression, the loss of good manufacturing jobs that paid a living wage, more part time service sector employment, we are seeing more senior citizens asking for help for the first time. We are just not seeing an economic recovery where the jobs that pay livable wages with benefits are returning, and in fact that people are working multiple part time jobs if they are fortunate enough. We have people who’ve been out of the workplaces for more than two years now. Rising housing costs. Rising gasoline. Rising utility costs and now, exacerbating the problem is rising food costs resulting from the 3rd greatest drought in this century.

Ingles – So what is the secret here- what needs to be done?

Hamler Fugitt – We have got to strengthen our federal nutrition programs. There are some in congress now, calling in the name of deficit reduction, to make significant cuts to the SNAP programs…it is wrong. It is wrong to ask the least among us, the hungriest of the hungry, to make the greatest sacrifice. In fact, recent polling that has just come out, 75% of the American people say it is wrong to cut food stamps and take food out of the mouths and plates of the least among us. We need to strengthen our safety net. We need to insure all those who are eligible for food programs are able to access the SNAP program known as the food stamp program. Also, for school aged children, if they are eligible, we need to make sure that they are receiving free or reduced price school breakfast and lunch programs.

Listener Comments:

Surely there are many people that need food, although those on food stamps should not be starving; more federal programs does not seem to be the answer.
If we need to strengthen our security net working conditions, housing, gas, will not improve by increasing food stamps.
Part of the SNAP program is from a tax on cigarettes, so money is taken from the poor and given to the poor/a wash.
I know several people on food programs that eat much better than I do,having no federal assistance - not finding fault in these people - the fault is with federal "assistance" programs.

Posted by: Something is wrong on September 15, 2012 11:09AM
We can not expect children to do well in school if they need food! Yet, teachers are expected to teach and children are expected to do well.

Senior citizens are a wonderful resource of ideas and information, but they need food to eat to survive.

If parents are working very hard to put food on the table, are they able to be good parents?

We bought automobiles with more miles per gallon ratings, yet the prices of gasoline have gone up, so we are not receiving the benefit of the more miles per gallon.

Rents need to stay low or we will have more people in need of public housing.

Posted by: Joyce Johnston (Oregon) on September 6, 2012 9:09AM
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