Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hunger in Palm Beach County? Who knew?

Florida is one of seven states with a significantly higher number of households with food insecurity problems than the U.S. national average.
In Palm Beach County alone, as many as 17 percent of residents - 1 in 6 people - do not know where their next meal will come from. More than 180,000 Palm Beach County residents rely on Food Stamps for survival (a 300% increase since 2008).
Hunger affects every dimension of a person's life - physical and mental health, employment, and additionally, for children, school success.
Can we eliminate or at least reduce hunger in Palm Beach County?

Who is Hungry?
The 211 Crisis Helpline has seen a 30% jump in the number of calls for food over the past 12 months.  A survey conducted by Feeding America reports that fully 17% of Palm Beach County residents are “food insecure” which means that close to 225,000 are unsure where their next meal is coming from. (Palm Beach County Food Bank information)
Recent data tells us why hunger in Palm Beach County is today at record levels:
• More than 2,000 homeless residents
• 190,000+ residents currently receive supplemental nutrition assistance benefits.  This represents nearly a 300% increase from 2008.
• 57% of Palm Beach county students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
What Are We Doing About It?
There are more than 100 agencies in Palm Beach County that help to feed the hungry. These agencies range from small churches that may distribute a bag of non-perishable food once every three months to larger organizations that serve hundreds of thousands of meals in one year. These organizations exist in every municipality within Palm Beach County from Boca Raton to Tequesta to the western communities of Belle Glade, South Bay, and Pahokee.
In 2012, the Palm Beach County Food Bank distributed over 5 million pounds of food to dozens of agencies in Palm Beach County that serve the hungry; at least 35 million pounds of food is needed each year.
For a complete list of those organizations that feed the hungry, please see 211 Palm Beach /Treasure Coast, Inc.

Palm Beach County
         16.26 percent of the Palm Beach County population is food insecure, with 212,530 people not knowing from where they will get their next meal. 
         61 percent of the food insecure population in Palm Beach County qualify based on income for SNAP (food stamps) and other federal nutrition programs, while 39 percent do not and often must rely on emergency food assistance programs and need better wages and employment opportunities to help them meet their basic needs. 
         $2.97 is the average price per meal in Palm Beach County.
         The food budget shortfall in Palm Beach County per person per week is $15.96, with a total shortfall of $102,905,240 or 34,648,229 meals.
                  23.9 percent of children in Palm Beach County are food insecure, meaning, 64,080 children go to bed hungry.  

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