Poverty is on the Rise Locally and Nationally

By: Steve Eschleman Email
By: Steve Eschleman Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- "Our parent organization, Feeding America, is calling what we're experiencing a perfect storm of hunger," said Scott Frasure, with the Huntington Area Food Bank. "There's a budget battle in Washington right now where they want to cut what they call entitlement programs."

Frasure says demand for services from the Huntington Area Food Bank are up 20 percent. The food bank serves 96,000 people in 17 counties, 12 of those in West Virginia.

"In Cabell County alone we have one in five people living under the poverty line," Frasure said. "And we have one in four children in poverty. We have 4,000 children who are food insecure."

Food insecure is described as not having enough consistent access to healthy, nutritious food. And Scott Frasure says that can affect a child's current and future development.

"The only thing they can think about is how hungry they are," says Scott. "How much their stomach hurt, because they haven't been eating and that affects their development, especially with younger children."

Frasure says the working poor really get squeezed. They exist just above the poverty line, which is $22,000 for a family of 4 in our region. Half of this food banks clientele are working poor, sometimes working two or three jobs.

"When you have hungry children at home," says Frasure. "You're going to do what you can to make sure they go to be with food on their stomachs."

Francie Roberts-Buchanan with information and referral has seen a huge spike for help with utilities. The also expect Christmas signups to hit record territory. Those signups are October 3 to the 6.

The food bank's mobile pantry served 50 families in March and expect to help 450 families next Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Wayne Community Center.

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