Stark County residents is hungry
Hunger is a prevalent reality in Stark County. According to Feeding America’s most recent Map the Meal Gap data, over 59,000 Stark County residents, or 15.9 percent of them, struggle with food insecurity. Many of our neighbors cannot count on regular and adequate meals, and have to make decisions about whether to pay the heating and medical bills or to buy enough groceries to feed themselves and their families.
The Stark County Hunger Task Force is an emergency line of support for those in need of food assistance, because we believe no one in Stark County should have to choose between food or heat.
Our pantry network, made up of more than 30 local pantries, serves free emergency groceries to 29,000+ Stark County residents each month. Patricia and Daniel are only two of those 29,000 who visit our pantries, but their stories demonstrate just how real that need is.
“In the long run, I am helping my family and myself, and we can have something to carry us over.”
-Patricia, age 57
Employed part-time at a local restaurant, Patricia unfortunately doesn’t earn enough money to fully support herself or her ailing parents. The assistance she received from the Stark County Hunger Task Force helps her to provide much-needed, adequate food to her mother, who is diabetic and suffers from a heart condition, and her stepfather, who is on dialysis.
“It really does help us all.”
“We appreciate the help we get, and thank the good Lord for agencies helping the less fortunate until things get better.” –Daniel, age 50
Like many who come to the pantry, Daniel’s poor health keeps from working. He lives with his girlfriend who is homebound, and while her social security checks pay the bill, they do not leave much for food.
A staggering statistic for Stark County is that one out of every four children in our community is hungry –six or more months out of the year, 25 percent of our children do not know where their next meal will come from.
The Stark County Hunger Task Force serves critical weekend meals to more than 1,000 children each month through our Pantry Support Program and Backpack for Kids Program. Make a difference in the lives of our hungry children by donating to the Stark County Hunger Task Force today. Donate to help feed a child.
It is hard to imagine that 10 percent of our senior population is in need of food assistance. While we talk of those in this stage of life as able to enjoy themselves and relax — chasing their hobbies and taking that dream trip, for instance — the reality is quite the opposite. Instead, they too worry about whether or not they have enough money to feed themselves. In 2014, the number of seniors (age 60+) our network serves rose to 14 percent. For many, the economic downturn has forced them to take on responsibility for their children’s children, and the loss of employment or benefits has left many of our seniors vulnerable, pinching the pennies of their fixed income or returning to the workforce in order to simply get by.
Take Ann for example:
“Not much money left from my social security check to buy food after paying for doctors and medicine.” –Ann, age 67
A cook for a nursing home for 10 years, Ann had to quit due to a medical condition (temporal arteritis and vertigo) when she was 58. Diabetic since 2007, she has found that her medical expenses eat up much of her income, and the assistance she receives from the Stark County Hunger Task Force helps her care for her disabled granddaughter and six-month-old great-grandchild.
The Stark County Hunger Task Force is here to support these seniors and the other hungry Stark County residents in their time of need. Our services offer a 3-5 day emergency supply of groceries for the entire household.
In November 2013, nearly all Stark County residents experienced a cut in their SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. These changes are a result of the expiration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Trickled down to a family of four, their monthly benefits were cut by$ 36.00.
As explained by Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, benefits were sliced again when Congress passed a new Farm Bill which increased support to foodbanks across the country, but which also dealt a hefty decrease to food stamp spending. Overall, the program was cut by $8.6 billion dollars, the second to effect SNAP in the past year.
While funding for foodbanks was increased, the Stark County Hunger Task Force is not a foodbank. The SCHTF is a support organization for a network of food pantries-direct distribution sites to those in need of food assistance in Stark County. However, our pantries do receive food orders from the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. The staggering numbers and statistics about hunger in Stark County are only a very small portion of a much larger, national picture. Along with food pantries around the country, we are proud to be connected to Feeding America, the nation’s hunger relief charity, and every day we see the overwhelming need for a strong, federal anti-hunger safety net.
With federal assistance declining, food assistance is more essential than ever, and so are the Stark County Hunger Task Force’s services to our community. This is evident from the amount of people served each month on the rise.
2010: 15,000 served each month
2011: 22,000 served each month
2012: 25,000 served each month
2013: 27,000 served each month
2015: 28,000 served each month
2016: 29,000 served each month
With our services in more demand, our fundraising efforts must correspond. For every dollar donated to the Stark County Hunger Task Force, we can purchase up to seven pounds of food. Please help in the battle of local hunger by choosing to support our mission of alleviating hunger in Stark County. You can make a difference in 29,000 Stark County lives each month with your donation.
What can you do about the big picture problem of hunger in America? You can start by contacting your Congressional Representatives – to ask yours to visit a food bank. Visit feedingamerica.org.
Hunger fighting is crucial in Stark County, and your help is vital. Only together can we win.