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Not good: Rhode Island Food bank releases report on hunger in Rhode Island

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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.”


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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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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. atomicsteve@gmail.com