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554,000 in Massachusetts Struggle to Put Food on the Table

Saturday, November 21, 2009 General News J E 4
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Project Bread addresses increased food insecurity as many face problem of hunger

BOSTON, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Project Bread, the state's leading anti-hunger organization, released numbers from its upcoming annual status report on hunger in the Commonwealth. The disquieting trends described in this report, caused by high unemployment, point to 554,000 people in the Commonwealth struggling with hunger. Food insecurity has found its way into middle class suburbs and has driven low-income people further into crisis. The report argues for a public health approach and asks that the state continue to bring systemic solutions to scale -- especially healthy school and summer food programs for kids. These programs are designed to help entire populations of low-income children while they also bring federal dollars into the Commonwealth.

No one has been left untouched by the economic downturn. Lost jobs. Lost savings. Lost homes. Not surprisingly, over 8.3 percent of households in Massachusetts struggle with "food insecurity," a measurement that captures the degree to which an individual or family cannot obtain adequate nutritious food for a healthy life. "Food insecurity with hunger," which is the most serious condition, is primarily found in low-income communities where the percentage is six times higher than the statewide average. Field research conducted by Project Bread indicates that food insecurity numbers to be issued in 2010 will dwarf current data as they capture the full impact of the economic crisis we're in.

"The current economic problems are driving a crisis in food insecurity that is broader and deeper than we've seen before in this state," says Ellen Parker, the executive director of Project Bread. "There is every indication that hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts citizens will need help to cover the basics -- including many who have never needed help before."

Among Project Bread's findings:

PROBLEMS:

SOLUTIONS:

The complete report, due out at the end of the month, will present the data to support these findings and solutions. Ellen Parker, the executive director of Project Bread, wrote the report. For interviews with Parker, please contact Project Bread.

About Project Bread

As the state's leading anti-hunger organization, Project Bread is dedicated to alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts. Through The Walk for Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country, Project Bread provides millions of dollars each year in privately donated funds to over 400 emergency food programs in 128 communities statewide. Project Bread also advocates systemic solutions that prevent hunger in children and that provide food to families in natural, everyday settings. With the support of the Governor and State Legislature, the organization has invested millions in grants to community organizations that feed children where they live, learn, and play. For more information, visit www.projectbread.org.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

Ellen Parker

http://profnet.prnewswire.com/Subscriber/ExpertProfile.aspx?ei=56173

CONTACT: Brooke MacKinnon of Project Bread - The Walk for Hunger, +1-617-239-2075, brooke_mackinnon@projectbread.org

-- 554,000 people in Massachusetts are struggling to put food on the table. -- The most recent measurement reveals that 8.3 percent of all Massachusetts households were food insecure, and nearly half of these households experience the most extreme condition, known as food insecurity with hunger. -- Food insecurity with hunger, the most serious condition, is six times higher in low-income communities, including those in Lawrence, Worcester, New Bedford, Fitchburg, Holyoke, and Springfield, among others, than the statewide average. -- Unemployment rates, combined with the down economy, are forcing many to ask for help. -- In 2009, Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline, which links hungry people with food in their neighborhood, experienced a 31% increase in calls in 2009. -- Project Bread's Hotline answered 49,000 calls from hungry people in 2009 as compared to slightly more than 37,000 for the same period a year ago. -- Survey research of 11,000 low-income families in health centers, conducted by Partners HealthCare and sponsored by Project Bread, revealed severe consequences to health, growth, and learning. -- Food pantries and soup kitchens funded by Project Bread through The Walk for Hunger served 57.3 million meals last year, an increase of 32 percent from the year before.

SOURCE Project Bread - The Walk for Hunger
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