God’s Pantry Food Bank has increased its outreach and output by 31 percent in the last five years, according to a report released Thursday by Marian Guinn, CEO of the food bank.
In 2001, 16,000 households and individuals used God’s Pantry services. This year that had increased to 21,000 households and individuals. According to the report, 30 percent of those served from the Fayette County Pantry are children, and 20 percent of adults needing help are working full or part time.
Other report statistics showed:
▪ Thirty-five percent of respondents have their own car. “When you couple lack of transportation with low income it makes very simple things like sourcing food so much more difficult,” Guinn said, addressing those at the announcement at Broadway Christian Church.
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▪ Forty-four percent of all adults in respondents’ households reported a disability.
▪ Fifty-two percent of pantry clients receive SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
▪ The average monthly household income of pantry recipients is less than $1,000.
▪ Seventy-four percent said they, or someone in their household, had health insurance. Only four percent, however, reported having private insurance.
Those who used the pantries varied in levels of education. Forty-five percent had attended high school, or some equivalent, while 30 percent had less than high school and 15 percent reported some college. Surprising to Guinn was the fact that nine percent had indicated receiving a college degree.
“It comes as no surprise to most that people with low levels of education have trouble, from time to time, meeting all the financial needs of their household,” Guinn said.
God’s Pantry has food pantry locations at: Broadway Christian Church, 187 N. Broadway; Cambridge Drive Community Action Council, 1902 Cambridge Drive; Central Christian Church, 219 E. Short Street and St. Luke United Methodist Church, 2351 Alumni Drive.
Survey results were compiled from more than 400 individuals who had visited one of the four Fayette County pantries between April 5-25 of this year. Alan Bartley, associate professor of economics at Transylvania University, helped assemble the survey and analyze its results. Students in his fall and spring economics classes helped, too.
Guinn spoke about the “tough choices” some people have to make in regards to food. She said:
▪ Fifty-three percent said they had to choose between paying for food and paying rent.
▪ Thirty-six percent were stuck with the choice of paying for food and paying for medical care or medicine, they said.
51 percent of pantry clients with children skip meals so their children can eat.
“These are difficult choices, but we know when forced to make choices like this, food is often the loser,” Guinn said.
Food drives conducted over the last 10 months were able to provide enough food to fill the pantries for six weeks, Guinn said.
In her closing remarks, Danielle Bozarth, programs director at God’s Pantry Food Bank, touched on ways people can bring the issue to the forefront. She said starting a conversation on the issue around the dinner table or in the break room of one’s office could be a good start to generating ideas on how to combat hunger.
“We all have neighbors in need,” Bozarth said. “folks who are really struggling just to make it through they day. What are you willing to give up?”