COLUMBIA — Missourians are turning to food banks for help more frequently this year, according to a new study from Feeding America, a national hunger relief agency.
The report states that one in eight Missourians use emergency food assistance every year, and nearly half of them live in families with at least one working adult.
“This is a serious problem in Missouri, and it’s growing as well,” said Scott Baker, director of the Missouri Food Bank Association. “The first step is that Missourians need to acknowledge that there’s a serious problem."
Peggy Kirkpatrick, the executive director of the Central Missouri Food Bank in Columbia, said the problem is indicative of the economic downturn.
The Missouri Food Bank Association delivered more than 84 million pounds of food last year, and it still wasn’t enough, Baker said.
Almost half of the people who used emergency food assistance had to choose between paying for food or paying for utilities, and about one-third had to choose between food or their rent or medical needs, according to the study.
“That’s a choice no one should have to make,” Baker said.
Feeding America is a national organization composed of food banks from around the country, six of which are from Missouri. This year was the first time that all six of the food banks participated in the study, which provided "a snapshot on hunger and poverty like never before," Kirkpatrick said.
The study also states that of household members that needed food assistance:
- 10 percent are children five years old or younger
- 39 percent are under 18 years old
- 42 percent of households include at least one employed adult