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Northeast Ohio’s Need for Food Assistance Is Being Driven by Inflation

Many families in Northeast Ohio are struggling to put food on the table. According to the United Way of Lake County, about one-third of the people in the county are now having trouble meeting their basic necessities.

More than 27,000 people and 7,000 kids are already experiencing food insecurity, according to this number. In the county, around 8% of the population lives in poverty. 23 percent more people fall just short of that mark.

According to Tami Lewis, the marketing and communications director for United Way of Lake County, “those most impacted are the poor and middle-income homes that don’t benefit from any federal nutrition programs or any nutrition programs at all” (UWLC).

Most of the more than 30 neighborhood pantries that the group supports, according to her, are reporting an increase in the need for food assistance.

“Do I receive medication or do I get food? used to be a debate. Denise Dworning, the pastor at Vineyard Community Church, which runs a weekly food pantry for 150–175 customers, stated that today it’s just “I can’t afford anything.”

Demand for food assistance grows with inflation at 40-year high

During UWLC’s largest annual food distribution on Thursday, the church’s pantry was one of the recipients of food donations. A total of $87,000 of food was delivered between the supplies on Thursday and another drive in May.

To assist individuals, we will require an increasing amount of funds, according to Dworning. “It’s just going to get worse,” someone said, “since they’re talking about slashing the SNAP payments and the COVID benefits.”

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was temporarily improved by a federal COVID-19 emergency declaration (SNAP). Roughly 700,000 Ohioans use emergency food assistance each month, costing the state about $120 million. When the United States lifts its public health emergency, several states, including Ohio, intend to stop providing the additional benefits.

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When the reform goes into effect, Americans may lose an average of $100 per month in food aid.

The food pantries believe that the issue will get much worse and that they won’t be able to keep up with demand, according to Lewis.

We anticipate the summer to be really busy for us, said Mary Annis Davis, a volunteer with the McKinley Community Outreach Center.

Rising costs may be driving more people to food banks

As inflation surges to a 40-year high, COVID-era aid may come to an end. In the last year, the cost of food has increased by over 12%.

Due to inflationary costs and the pandemic, many items that are regularly purchased at a conventional grocery shop are not available. The cost of everything is increasing. Darlene Adkins remarked, “You just do what you have to do to make ends meet.

She presently feeds a family of four while also helping to supplement the diet of her aging mother. Adkins said that the Eastlake family has been reliant on monthly help from the McKinley food pantry since their salary is just barely too high to be eligible for SNAP benefits.

“We made significant cuts. However, things have been quite tight because our son has also been very ill this year. So this area has been a gift from God,” she said.

Before inflation uncertainties, UWLC claimed that $1 in donations could purchase up to 4 meals. Lewis acknowledged that it’s challenging to measure how far a dollar goes in the current economy but noted that it isn’t as far as it previously was.

“Due to the inflation, there is a great deal of need right now. Just trying to put food on the table is difficult for them, she added.

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Donations are essential to UWLC’s ability to assist the organizations it does. By going here, you may learn more about how to help United Way and its objectives. Additionally, you may give by texting UWLC100 to 44321.

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