Far too many Ohioans are going hungry

Published 9:37 am Friday, March 2, 2012

The statistics are startling. Nearly one in five Ohioians had difficulty feeding his or her family in 2011.

That is the result according to a recent study by the Food Research and Action Center, a report that shows hunger is a problem right here at home.

Ohio is ranked 18th nationally in terms of what is classified as “food hardship.” This is up from 23rd in 2010.

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Some of the data came from answers to a very simple question: “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food for you or your family?”

This is very concerning and illustrates a social problem that is sometimes overlooked or falsely perceived to be something that does not happen in America.

Our region is blessed with food banks and food pantries and other organizations that continually try to meet the needs of families struggling to put food on the table. This certainly needs to continue and, hopefully, reports like this help raise an even greater awareness of the problem.

The need is certainly increasing.

“Over the past three months, our greater network of more than 3,300 member food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters served more than 2.3 million Ohioans unable to obtain the basic necessity of food on their own,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.

“Our foodbanks are hard-pressed to fill the gaps between adequate nutrition and food hardship for Ohio’s families, especially as food prices increase while federal food assistance benefits remain stagnant. We urge policymakers and community stakeholders to engage in strategies to prevent local families and communities from experiencing the detrimental effects of hunger.”

It is clear the problem is real — and getting worse. It will take a united effort to change that.