At least 12.5% of Western Massachusetts residents are living below the poverty line, and that number is growing.
This just in from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC): More than 25 percent of households with children in Springfield reported they suffered from “food hardship” (an inability to afford enough food) in 2009-2010.
FRAC announced the numbers in the latest report (released today) in its “Food Hardship in America” series, which analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
Some food hardship details for Massachusetts include:
“The food hardship rates in Springfield for households with or without children are unconscionable,” said Andrew Morehouse, executive director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. “These new data reaffirm what we’ve been seeing in our communities – that more than 108,000 people in Western Mass. continue to struggle with hunger in these economic times, and that approximately one in three of all people served by The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts are children.”
“These numbers reinforce the fact that this is not the time to make our safety net weaker,” Morehouse continued. “Congress must ensure that all deficit negotiations protect nutrition programs and other parts of the safety net that support vulnerable households, especially with children, that are struggling to make ends meet.”
When Congress returns to Washington after its August recess, it will enter the next phase of consideration under the recently passed debt ceiling deal. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) will hold its first meeting and begin to develop plans to cut an additional $1.5 trillion in spending. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts urges Congress and the “Super Committee” to protect safety-net programs such as SNAP (food stamps), school meals, WIC and TEFAP (federal emergency food assistance) from cuts.
“These data demonstrate…that this is not the time to make our safety net weaker,” said FRAC President Jim Weill, “and Congress must ensure that all deficit negotiations protect nutrition programs and other parts of the safety net that help low-income people.”
The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has interviewed more than one million households since January 2008.
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