To those who have always had the pleasure of going to bed with a full stomach, the state of hunger here in Massachusetts would be shocking to say the least. Each year, organizations like Project Bread to a fantastic job of identified the depth of the problem, and quantifying it against years past. In this years report, they identified that the number of households in Massachusetts facing hunger continues to climb, with 10.8 percent of households in Massachusetts struggling to provide food. This is the highest rate recorded in the Commonwealth since this data was first collected in 1995.
Citing the growing inequality between the most affluent families, and the most impoverished, they delved into the details of this 10.8% as it relates to two subgroups of households. The first was defined as “food insecure” indicating that they have reduced the quality and quantity of their diet out of a need to make ends meet. They further describe a second group as being “food insecure with hunger,” as being forced to routinely skip meals due to lack of resources. In 2010, they concluded that in Massachusetts, 6.3% being food insecure, and 4.5% being “hungry” on a routine basis.
Again from the Project Bread report, a recent report from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University revealed that nationally, 37 percent of young families with children (where the parents are younger than 30) lived in poverty in 2010 — the highest level on record.7 These families not only are struggling more than others, but also have fewer resources available to them. The report also showed that, primarily because of welfare reform, federal aid to single-parent families living on less than half of the poverty-level income dropped by about 38 percent between 1984 and 2004.
The numbers are surprising, but the impact is even more profound when considering the long-term prospects for the children in these families. In 2009, 18 percent of all Massachusetts children lived in food-insecure households.8 And in high poverty areas, we know that children are nearly twice as likely to struggle with hunger.9
When children are hungry, they are more susceptible to a range of illnesses — ear infections, iron deficiency, asthma, cardiovascular disease,
among others — that prevent them from fully realizing their physical and academic potential. Their healthy food families need consistent, reliable
sources of nutritious food to help maintain their health and build a way out of poverty.
I recommend that anyone interested in the true depth of these issues take a few moments to ready the report and other like it. You can view the Project Bread report at this link. http://www.projectbread.org/site/DocServer/ProjectBread_StatusReportonHunger2011.pdf?docID=7101