Nearly 13 percent of Monroe County residents are at risk of going hungry, according to a recent report from Feeding America, a national food bank network and advocacy organization.
Rochester’s Foodlink, which is part of Feeding America’s food bank network, distributed some local figures from the national organization’s Map the Meal Gap
report yesterday. Across the 10 counties that Foodlink serves, 12 percent of the population is “food insecure,” says the study. In other words, about 150,680 people across the region have limited or uncertain access to adequate food, says a press release from Foodlink. That’s an increase of 15,170 compared to last year, Foodlink says.
Of the 10 counties, Monroe’s 12.8 percent hunger rate was the highest. But the other counties were generally in the 10 to 12 percent range, so the difference isn’t huge.
And about one in five children in the 10-county region are considered food insecure, says Foodlink’s release.
But the report includes another important statistic: 35 percent of the people at risk of hunger in the Rochester area can’t qualify for SNAP benefits – food stamps – because their income exceeds the federal program’s threshold.
The problem actually goes deeper: even for people who do qualify, SNAP benefits often aren’t adequate to eat for an entire month.
And last year, the federal government started reducing funding for the program. A temporary boost included in the 2009 stimulus package expired last year. Then Congress and the president approved legislation that cut funding by $8.7 billion. An NPR report
from last month says the cuts were targeted to a specific program, and some states seem to have found a way around those cuts.