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Census data: More in southeast Ohio are living below 200 percent of poverty level

COLUMBUS — 2014 5-year American Community Survey estimates released today show an increase in the number of individuals living in households with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level in four of ten counties served by the SE Ohio Foodbank and Kitchen, when compared to 2009 5-year estimates.

This income threshold is considered the standard at which households can reach self-sufficiency— about $40,000 for a family of three. Eight of the 10 counties served by the SE Ohio Foodbank and Kitchen have at least 40 percent of the county population eligible for help from the Foodbank.

“Our neighbors and friends are not gaining ground since the end of the Great Recession,” said Katie Schmitzer, division director of the SE Ohio Foodbank and Kitchen, a division of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action. “In fact, now an estimated 152,480 residents in the SE Ohio Foodbank & Kitchen’s service area are eligible for help from our hunger relief network because their household incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Unfortunately, while we find this data disheartening, it is not surprising.”

Among the highlights of the ACA data include:

Eighty of Ohio’s 88 counties, including four of 10 counties in the SE Ohio Foodbank & Kitchen service area, had increases in the percentage of residents living in households eligible for help from foodbanks (incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level) from 2005-2009 to 2010-2014

Further, five of the top 10 worst counties in the state of Ohio, in terms of percentage of households living below poverty, are served by the SE Ohio Foodbank & Kitchen.

“Barely getting by is becoming the norm for too many of the families we serve,” said Schmitzer. “We thank our generous partners and donors who give of their time and money to help us help our friends and neighbors, and we call on our federal and state legislators to respond in kind with solutions that give everyone the chance for a livable wage that allows them to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.”

For more information, visit the U.S. Census Bureau FactFinder to view new American Community Survey data or visit the Ohio Association of Foodbanks at www.ohiofoodbanks.org.