More people going hungry, USDA report hits home in Central Georgia
A report from the United States Department of Agriculture shows a record number of people in the U.S. were in need of food assistance last year, and local service organizations say that trend may be continuing.
Middle Georgia Community Food Bank Executive Director Ron Raleigh says he has known about the statistics for about three months, even though the report was officially released Wednesday. He says the most important number to pay attention to is that 1 in 6 people are in poverty including 1 in 5 children.
The report also shows 17.9 million households were forced to cut back on meals last year, that's 700,000 more households than in 2010. Two men from Macon, 44-year-old Shawn Clough, and 21-year-old Joshua Horne are part of the growing population of Americans struggling to eat.
"I''ve been out of food for a few days sometimes and it's been really, really, really, hard," Clough said.
"Like right now all I have is like a box of macaroni and cheese and a few canned products," Horne said.
With demand for food at record levels Raleigh says he's trying to stay cool, and educate the public about a need for food with special events like Hunger Awareness Month.
"We don't do stress, we just do what we can do to make things happen, and get things going," Raleigh said.
Raleigh says his food stores are at about 52% capacity which is well below levels needed to supply local service organizations, that are in turn, turning people away hungry.
"We don't know what's coming, we don't know how much is coming, or if it's coming at all," said Macon Outreach Executive Director Johnny Hathcock.
"Just continue to donate, continue to bring in canned goods to help us do the job that we need to do in Middle Georgia," Raleigh said.
According to the report Georgia has been hit exceptionally hard, the state by state breakdown shows more than 15% of households in the state are food insecure.