Unfortunately, yes. Experts say that people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from are experiencing “food insecurity.” And tens of millions of Americans face this situation every day.
This isn’t an exaggeration. According to recent reports, 18.5% of American households are considered “food insecure.” And at least 40 million U.S. residents—more than one in eight of our neighbors—actually received food aid in 2009.
With our economy suffering, the demand for food assistance keeps growing.
According to Feeding America, a national organization of food banks, the number of Americans needing help with food has jumped 46% in the last three years. This includes 50% more children who need food assistance, and 64% more senior citizens.
Another study determined that 25% of all households with children are likely to experience hunger or food insecurity. And that number goes up to over 30% in households with single parents.
Think of it this way: If you’re standing in a line in your community, one of the eight people around you probably hasn’t had enough to eat. And if your child is in a class of 28 people, 7 of their classmates may not be sure where their next meal is coming from. It’s shocking.
Why are so many of our neighbors hungry?
It’s not because there’s a shortage of food. Studies show that America produces twice as much food as we need in order to feed everyone in our country. So what’s the problem?
Many of our neighbors simply can’t afford to buy enough food—even when they’re working. Feeding America reports that at least 1/3 of all American families who get help with food have one or more people working. In Oregon, the number is higher—46% of food recipients are working. Many of the other recipients have lost their jobs, or simply can’t find work.
The result is heartbreaking. According to Feeding America: “A growing number of people have to make difficult choices about what to spend their dwindling dollars on.” Additionally…
More than 46% of our clients report having to choose between paying for utilities or heating fuel and food.
39% said they had to choose between paying for rent or a mortgage and food.
34% report having to choose between paying for medical bills and food.
35% must choose between transportation and food.
A silver lining.
Hidden in these alarming statistics is one bit of very good news: If 60 million Americans are “food insecure,” then about 250 million Americans are not.
This means that there are plenty of people who can afford to offer a little help. Not everyone, of course.…But more than enough to make a huge difference. You may be one of them.
And that’s what the Ashland Food Project is all about.
Who Gets the Food
All of the food that the Ashland Food Project picks up is taken directly to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, an independent food bank that has been serving the Ashland/Talent community since 1972. They give a small percentage of it to other groups, including the Ashland Food Angels, the Ashland Senior Center, and Uncle Food’s Diner…and the rest they use to serve their own clients.
The Ashland Food Project generally supplies 30%–35% of the food the AEFB distributes. The food donated through the AFP is particularly important to our food bank now, because the demand for food there has increased by over 170% since 2007. This year, they are supplying food to more than 1,300 of our neighbors each month. About 38% of these neighbors are children— and contrary to some people’s beliefs, only 2% of the recipients are homeless.
As Philip Yates, Nutrition Director of ACCESS, explains:
“Some people wonder whether food recipients in our area are just taking advantage of the community’s generosity. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Close to half the families we serve have at least one person working. Many of the rest are out of work and can’t find jobs. The majority of people we serve just don’t earn enough money to cover their basic expenses.”