R.I. Community Food Bank releases
2019 hunger survey

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Community Food Bank released its 2019 Rhode Island Hunger Survey report Thursday.

The annual report said the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report on food security found that 11% of households in Rhode Island were food insecure and nearly half of those households were reported to have the most severe conditions associated with hunger, what the USDA deems “very low food security.”

The food bank said in its report it distributed 11.6 million pounds of food from July 2018 to June 2019, with member agencies serving 53,000 people per month on average. Of the households it served, 51% included an individual under the age of 17 or an individual over the age of 65.

More than 96% of those surveyed made $30,000 or less in household income. Nearly 60% of respondents said they had a household income of $10,000 or less.

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The report found that 88% of the people using the services of the food bank and related agencies have yearly incomes that fall below federal poverty guidelines. Of the total food bank program participants, 75% receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

The survey also found that 29.9% of respondents have unpaid medical bills, 31.2% had to choose between food and medical care, 33.3% had to choose between food and utilities and 32.7% had to choose between food and their rent or mortgage payments. 

The food bank said the median amount of money estimated to meet food needs for respondents who said they would need to spend more weekly to meet their food needs was $66 per week.

A majority of food recipients were white at 58.8%, while 23.8% were Hispanic, 18.2% were black and 4.3% were Native American or Alaskan Native.

According to the report, among all households that use the food bank and its member agencies’ services, 99% are comprised of entirely U.S. citizens and legal residents.

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