Food for thought: The changing face of hunger

Hunger. Itâ??s a reality millions of Americans face on a daily basis.

â??You know we knew it was bad, but Itâ??s worse than we thought," said Susan Dublin, Regional Coordinator for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

According to the USDA, in terms of low food security, Missouri ranks second in the nation, topped only by Mississippi. That means the number of households lacking the resources for food is on the rise, while supplemental resources are quickly disappearing.

"Itâ??s very concerning because Missouri has never been number two and the other concerning piece that they were so kind to give us as well is that in the last in the last 10 years weâ??ve shown the quickest growth in that area. Not growth that you want to see, but in an unfortunate pattern of food insecurity," said Dublin.

About one out of every four residents in Adair County is considered food inscure by national standards, but now more than ever the face of hunger seems to be changing.

â??I think that people would be very surprised to find out that one of the largest growing segments that we are seeing is what I call working poor. Which is people who are working and you know trying to do the right thing, and theyâ??re faced with tough choices everyday," said Dublin.

Dublin attributes recent growth to the economic crash in 2007, which also impacted a great deal of retirees. Now she says many working families simply canâ??t stretch their budgets any further, and when the money gets tight, food is typically the first thing to go.

â??Truly, the only thing in the budget thatâ??s not fixed, you know your water bills and gas bills and rent those are all fixed items, you have to get to work, you need the car, you need the gas for the car, but food is not a fixed item. Where do you cut in the budget? You cut food out. You skip some meals, your children skip meals because you know youâ??re doing everything right, but itâ??s still not enough," said Dublin.

And after cuts to the SNAP program last November, a family of four now gets $36 less in benefits every month. Even more cuts are on the way since the passage of the Farm Bill, so local food banks are seeing a need now more than ever.

â??I think you talk to any of the pantries they will tell you that the numbers are up," said Dublin.

So theyâ??re working to keep up with need, as best they can.

â??I can truly tell you that, you know it breaks your heart some of the things you see and some of the stories you hear, and at the same time you feel like hopefully youâ??re helping some of that," said Dublin.

And every dollar donated could mean a meal for a struggling neighbor.

â??You know we need to all work together and pitch in to help this. Itâ??s a basic need of life. Food, clothing, shelter. And if we donâ??t have those how can we read a book, and think, take a test, do well, get ahead and get out of poverty?â?? said Dublin.