By Sam Benson
More than one in four families with children in Ohio have faced food hardships within the last year, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The report defines facing “food hardships” as answering “yes” to the question “have there been times in the last twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” This question was asked to roughly one million families nationwide over the last three years. The national percentage of families facing food hardships was 14.9%, with the percentage rising to 23.4% for families with children, leading the report to conclude that inadequate ability to put food on the table is a serious problem facing America.
While the report stresses that no corner of the country is safe from this problem, the findings are especially grim for Ohio. With 16.6% of families without children and 26.3% of families with children facing food hardships, Ohio ranks as the 20th most food insecure state. In addition, Ohio’s 11th district, which comprises East Cleveland, ranks 22nd out of all Congressional districts in food insecurity with 34.4% of families with children experiencing food hardships, a staggering and depressing figure. Indeed, Ohio has four major metropolitan areas in the top 50 most food insecure metropolitan areas, showing that Ohio’s big cities have especially concentrated populations of people struggling to put food on the table.
With Congress struggling to reduce the deficit, food assistance programs such as food stamps are in a precarious position. But before they put pen to paper, our representatives in Washington should heed this report, for as disheartening as these figures are, they stand to become much worse if significant cuts to assistance programs are made. As the report makes clear, “this is a national problem demanding aggressive steps toward a solution.”
Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and The Street Chronicle published Sept. 2011 Cleveland, Ohio