Julian Omidi discuses an article about the increasing demand for food pantries in Michigan.
Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank distributed more food than we did in 2013. Last year, the organization sent out 25.6 million pounds of groceries and household goods, approximately 20 million meals, to communities in 40 Michigan counties, an increase of more than 9 percent over 2012.
Currently, hunger affects one in six people in the United States. According to Feeding America’s last nationwide survey, conducted in 2011, that 316,000 are at risk of hunger in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. 2013’s surge in demand indicates that the current number may be higher.
Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Benton Harbor distributed 96,000 meals through the Food Bank. Diane Dale, coordinator of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, with the help from another local church, turned their ad hoc benevolence ministry into a full-fledged food pantry with regular hours. They are just one of more than 1,200 agency partners fighting hunger in the region.
With the economy as it is, there are limited job opportunities and decreasing public assistance. With no job, people have to turn to food pantries and public assistance. Public assistance has already been cut substantially in the past few months.
The extension of the long-term unemployment benefits expired with the end of the last congressional session, leaving nearly 44,000 Michiganders without what may have been their only source of income. Food stamp allotments were reduced for all recipients back in November with further cuts likely to be included in the next Farm Bill.
Food Bank’s record-breaking year shows that charities are capable of doing much to combat food insecurity thanks to support from food donors and financial supporters. Feeding America West Michigan is also seeking new food donors.
No matter where you live, get connected with your local food bank. Hunger affects people throughout the entire country and we can help.