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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

One out of four RI households don’t have enough food

RI Food Bank reports dramatic increase in food insecurity

By  Steve Ahlquist 

The Rhode Island Food Bank released their 2020 Status Report on Hunger in Rhode Island, and it contains dire, but not unexpected data.

“It’s shocking, but one in four households lack adequate food,” said Andrew Schiff, CEO of the Rhode Island Food Bank. “The rate of food insecurity was even higher – one in three for Black and Latinx households. They are also the ones suffering the most from coronavirus disease. Black Rhode Islanders and Latinx Rhode Islanders are over represented among Covid cases and hospitalizations.”

Among the reports findings:

  • One in four households in Rhode Island lacks adequate food.

  • Underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are prevalent among food insecure Rhode Islanders.

  • Demand for food assistance at member agencies of the Food Bank grew by 26 percent in the wake of the pandemic.

  • Government aid is critical to protecting vulnerable families from hunger.

“Before March we were serving about 53,000 people every month through our statewide network of member agencies,” said CEO Schiff. “We thought that was too many. Since March, we’ve been serving 68,000 people every month.” 

“I support a 15% increase in SNAP benefits in the next relief package,” said US Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). “That would amount to about $25 per person per month or just under $100 in food assistance per month for a family of four – not enough by itself, but an important part of a comprehensive response.” 

Reed lamented that the Republican led Senate has prevented any meaningful new action on either the pandemic or the economic crisis.

The report outlined four action steps the public can take to help:

  • Urge Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation to pass another COVID-19 relief bill that brings back supplemental unemployment compensation and boosts SNAP benefits through this economic downturn.

  • Petition the USDA to provide P-EBT to all children from low-income families when schools are closed for summer vacation.

  • Advocate for the Department of Human Services to implement a comprehensive SNAP outreach program to help newly unemployed Rhode Islanders enroll.

  • Contact state legislators and tell them to support the Governor’s call for increased funding for the Food Bank.

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

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