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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • New study reveals depth of hunger problem in Mo.

  • A new study by Feeding America and the Missouri Food Bank Association (MFBA) shows that one in five people, or an estimated 1,190,600 Missourians, rely upon food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families on an annual basis.
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  • A new study by Feeding America and the Missouri Food Bank Association (MFBA) shows that one in five people, or an estimated 1,190,600 Missourians, rely upon food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families on an annual basis.
    "The statistics from this study are staggering," said Todd Pridemore, development manager for The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.
    Among other things that the study found:
    • On an annual basis, 1,190,600 unique clients are served.
    • An estimated 70 percent of clients in Missouri are white, 20 percent are black and 3 percent are Hispanic.
    • An estimated 46 percent of client households report at least one employed person at some point last year.
    • An estimated 60 percent of partner food programs reported an increase in the volume of clients coming to the program in the past 12 months.
    • Among partner food programs reporting turning away clients for any reason in the past 12 months, an estimated 24 percent did so because they ran out of food.
    • Sixty-five percent of clients have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
    • Sixty-nine percent have had to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities.
    Pridemore noted that of the more than 30 counties that The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri serves, Phelps County is one of the top three counties in need of greater food assistance.
    That determination is made through poverty numbers and census data for each of the counties that are served. In Phelps County, the poverty rate is 18.9 percent.
    In Rolla, Tina Davis, executive director for Greater Rolla Area Charitable Enterprise (GRACE), told the Daily News that in the three years she has been in charge, she has seen a steady increase.
    GRACE began 12 years ago to help with immediate needs such as food or energy assistance.
    "Looking at the numbers before 2011, the need for food assistance has pretty much stayed the same," Davis told the Daily News. "In three years the number of those we are helping has doubled."
    She cited the lack of employment and changes in government regulations regarding food stamps as just a few of the causes she believes is behind this high demand.
    Earlier this year The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri partnered with Greentree Christian Church to provide a monthly mobile-truck food distribution in Rolla.To date, that food distribution has provided close to 84,000 pounds of food to Phelps County residents.
    "This study shows just how deep the hunger problem runs throughout Missouri," said Scott Baker, state director for the MFBA. "More and more people are relying upon emergency food programs just to make it through the month.
    Page 2 of 2 - "As a result, this has put a tremendous strain on resources," Baker said. "Some food pantries have to turn people away because there isn't enough food. This study paints a stark picture of hunger in Missouri and the ripple effect it can have on people."
    The Hunger in America 2014 survey was conducted using rigorous academic research standards and was peer reviewed by a technical advisory team including researchers from American University, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the Urban Institute. A summary of the findings is available at www.feedingmissouri.org.

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