Friday, August 12, 2011

Half of Households with Children in the 1st Congressional District Report Inability to Afford Food

Passing out groceriesFrom our friends at Witnesses to Hunger.
New data released yesterday by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) shows that a staggering 49.6 percent of households with children in the first Congressional District served by Congressman Bob Brady reported not having enough money to buy food that they needed in 2008-2010. In the 2nd Congressional District served by Congressman Chaka Fattah, the food hardship rate among households with children was 32.2 percent. Across the state of Pennsylvania, one in five households with children experienced such hardship.

See today's press coverage on the food hardship rates in Philadelphia in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Alfred Lubrano and the Daily News by Carol Towarnicky.

The impact of such extreme food hardship will have permanent consequences for the health, development and future potential of the nation's children. Our research has shown that children in food insecure households are at greater risk for health problems, impaired cognitive development, behavioral and emotional problems, and are more likely to have trouble in school and the workforce.

A recent article by Alfred Lubrano in the Philadelphia Inquirer, How Hunger Affects Children in the Philadelphia Area describes the emotional impacts of poverty on children from families struggling with food hardship. Nadja Brickle, a mother of Witnesses to Hunger quoted in the article, states "When I cook, I often don't eat so my kids can. Most people don't know what it feels like to have your stomach completely empty and to make and smell food you won't be eating. And then, they're not satisfied 'cause it's not enough food for them. And you're still hungry."

Additional findings from the FRAC Report show:
  • 21.6 percent of households with children in Pennsylvania experienced food hardship in 2008-2010. The rate of food hardship for households without children was 13.3 percent.
  • 23.4 percent of households with children in the U.S. experienced food hardship in 2008-2010. The rate of food hardship for households without children was 14.9 percent.
Tianna Gaines-Turner, Chair of the Advisory Board of Witnesses to Hunger and resident of the 1st Congressional District responded to the report stating, "These data demonstrate that now is NOT the time to weaken our safety net. Congress must protect SNAP (food stamps), WIC, housing subsidies, and other parts of the safety net that help struggling families."

The data show that Pennsylvania and its many cities, counties, and suburbs have to do a much better job of helping families escape poverty. It is appalling that almost half of all households with children in the 1st Congressional District can't afford food. We all must take ownership of the problem and identify solutions. Government agencies, corporations, hospitals, foundations, non-profits, and ordinary citizens all have important roles to play.

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