Survey: Most food bank visitors employed but living in poverty

Community

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank teamed up with Brown University’s Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute to conduct a survey of its patrons, seeking to gather information on their personal and economic circumstances.

While there was no big increase in the number of Rhode Islanders utilizing the food bank and its member agencies, with about 53,000 being served every month, CEO Andrew Schiff says it’s their inability to stay above the poverty line that’s concerning.

According to the data released on Thursday, the majority of the 410 people who responded to the survey were employed but still unable to get through the month without the help of SNAP benefits.

“Eighty-eight percent of the households have an income below poverty,” Schiff said.

More than half of the households reported having an annual income below $10,000, the report states.

Read in Full: 2019 Rhode Island Hunger Survey »

The survey revealed 75 percent of respondents are enrolled in SNAP, 66 percent of households include a child or a senior, and 45 percent reported being in “poor” or “fair” health.

“A lot of the folks in these households are in poor health,” Schiff said. “Forty-one percent told us that they had a household member with diabetes. That’s four times higher than the prevalence in the United States.”

Because of that, Schiff said the food bank works to keep the selection healthy for those worrying about their next meal.

“Highest quality possible, nutritious foods and that, as families are getting their food, they know how to turn it into the most nutritious meals possible,” he added.

Schiff also said he’s concerned about the imminent cuts to federal assistance that could leave 11,000 Rhode Islanders—including 5,000 children—without any benefits.

The new survey is different from the food bank’s Annual Status Report on Hunger, which will be released Thanksgiving week.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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