The Rhode Island Community Food Bank has released their 2018 Status Report on Hunger in Rhode Island. Among the reports findings:

  • Hunger is more prevalent in Rhode Island than it was 10 years ago.
  • Food insecurity affects one in eight Rhode Island households.
  • Inflation outpaces wage growth for many workers.
  • Demand for food assistance remains high throughout the Food Bank’s statewide network of member agencies, serving 53,000 people each month.

Food inflation is outpacing wage growth, says the report. From July 106 to July 2018, the weekly cost of food for a family of four has risen 15 percent while the average weekly earnings for “nonsupervisory employees” in the United States has risen only five percent.

This trend adds to food insecurity, meaning that it is become ever more difficult for low-income families to afford adequate food. From 2015 – 2017, 24,500 households reported severe food insecurity and hunger in Rhode Island, a significant increase over the past decade.

Worse, says the report, “federal food benefits are on the chopping block in Congress.” The House is “proposing to rollback SNAP eligibility and benefits, cutting SNAP by $18.8 billion over the next 10 years.” This would be bad enough if SNAP benefits were adequate, but they are not.

“SNAP benefit levels are based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Thrifty Food Plan, which estimates the weekly cost of food for a family of four to be $148.20. And yet, the average household in the United States spends 1.5 times more on food each week than the Thrifty Food Plan allows.

“Because SNAP benefits do not reflect the actual cost of food, many SNAP recipients exhaust their benefits and then turn to food pantries for assistance. Demand for food assistance remains high in Rhode Island, particularly at the end of each month. Through its network of 158 member agencies, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank monthly serves 53,000 people, significantly more than ten years ago.”

The report concludes with recommended action steps:

  • Urge Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation to reject a Farm Bill that contains cuts to SNAP.
  • Ask Governor Gina Raimondo to support Bonus Bucks at Farmers Markets to help SNAP recipients afford local, fresh food.
  • Boost the earnings of hard-working Rhode Islanders by telling legislators to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • Advocate for additional funding for the Food Bank to meet the continued high need for food assistance in Rhode Island.

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edith pilkington

The Rhode Island Food Bank was founded in 1983 – the very beginning of the neoliberal era in the U S, when Ronald Reagan was a newly sworn in president. What has happened since?: I can’t easily find figures that go all the way back to 1983 for R I but the graph linked to does what it is supposed to – graphically illustrate the problem of homelessness – and New York is close enough to make the point that the neoliberal non-profit industrial complex put in place to fill the void in social welfare services, a void created by Reaganites and made more profound by neoliberal Third Way Clinton/Biden “Democrats” in the early Nineties, has only exacerbated the problems of inequality in this country. There has been much criticism in the U K about the proliferation of food banks there and the problems involved in relying on them… Read more »

Greg Gerritt

The State of RI, and the economic development establishment, continues to use an economic development model that is guaranteed to make health care and housinbg less affordable,. This report demonstratees clearly that the economic development model in RI also makes food less accessible to most Rhode Islanders. it is time for an economic development plan based on reducing inequality, which means an economic development plan based on increasing food security for all. Grow food, do not build luxury apartment buildings. Grow food on vacant lots. Compost all food scrap, End food deserts and swamps. Hoping for rapid economic growth in industries that will never employ food insecure Rhode Islanders, and siupposing trickle down will fill bellies is a ridiculous policy. Even the World Bank and the IMF tell us the policies that Rhode Island bets on do not work, as they only fill the pockets of the wealthy, never the… Read more »