Monday, August 8, 2022

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Report: Missouri Food-Pantry Clients Face Hard Choices

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Wednesday, June 8, 2022   

A new report finds many Missourians still struggle with food insecurity, and at much higher levels than before the pandemic.

Food pantries are seeing demand at 50% over what it was pre-COVID, and 70% of food-pantry clients surveyed by the University of Missouri said they often don't know where their next meal is coming from.

Kim Buckman, communications and advocacy manager for Feeding Missouri, the group that commissioned the survey, pointed out that with inflation, just over half of respondents said they get more than half of all the food they consume from food pantries.

"Food insecurity is something that we never want anyone to have to go through," she said, "to try and figure out where their next meal is coming from, or worried about watering down food, or skipping meals or trading food for medicine or vice versa."

Nearly 40% of respondents said they'd had to choose between food and medicine or medical care; more than 45% said they'd chosen between food and paying utility bills; and nearly 35% between food and housing. While more than 70% of the households surveyed were eligible for SNAP - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Buckman said, just over 40% were enrolled.

Buckman noted that the survey also covered ties between health issues and food insecurity. Sixty percent of respondents said someone in their household has high blood pressure, and 41% included someone with diabetes.

"We know that there's lots of research that ties food insecurity together with health issues," she said, "but we were actually able to kind of pinpoint the health issues - not only statewide, but also in the region - so we can have a better idea of what kind of education we could possibly provide at pantries."

Buckman said the high cost of gas and groceries is putting additional strain on many families.

"Even our food banks are seeing an increase - like in some categories, two to three times what they would have to spend on food, to get the food to distribute to people," she said, "so I can only imagine what that's doing to families."


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