Hunger and food insecurity are still major problems in the Miami Valley even as the economic recovery gradually gets more people working. The Foodbank of the Miami Valley says it’s doing better meeting local residents’ needs than it was four years ago. That’s the last time a group called Feeding America did its periodic national survey of food banks and their users.
The Foodbank serves an estimated 70,300 people per year, including 24,800 children, through 88 member agencies in Mongtomery, Greene and Preble Counties. But Lora Davenport, who does community relations for the Foodbank, says there are still some gaps in the organization’s services.
“The Foodbank is willing to take all food, but we are especially in need of items that are healthy, for example fresh produce,” she says. Ninety percent of the people surveyed recently report buying “inexpensive, unhealthy food” to get by. Getting food to seniors who don’t have transportation is also an issue the Foodbank is trying to address.
The number the Foodbank is able to serve is still less than the number who might need it: a different study by Feeding America estimates 125,700 people in the area struggle with food insecurity.
The new report finds large majorities of the Foodbank’s clients sometimes have to choose between paying for food and paying for transportation, healthcare and utilities. Many also use coping strategies to provide food, including watering down food and drinks, growing food in gardens, or receiving help from friends or family. Of households receiving some help from the Foodbank, 64 percent have at least one member working.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.