Economic Development

Hunger Remains Worse in Valley than in Nation

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The percentage of residents in Mahoning County who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, 16.5%, exceeds the national average of 14%, the executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank, Mike Iberis, said Tuesday.

Second Harvest, one of 200 member food banks of Feeding America, released Feeding America’s latest report, “Map the Meal Gap 2017.”

The report shows that the percentage of residents in Columbiana and Trumbull counties also exceeds the national average, 14.6% and 16.1% respectively.

“Map the Meal Gap 2017” finds that people who face hunger “are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs,” Iberis said. “Food-insecure people,” as he calls those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from or when, face “on average, a food budget shortfall of $16.6 per person per week, up from $15.20 last year.”

Key local findings in “Map the Meal Gap 2017” include:

  • 87,350 people in the Mahoning Valley are food-insecure.
  • 27,760 children in the three counties live in food-insecure households.

Last year, Second Harvest distributed a record 10.5 million pounds of food, including three million pounds of produce, in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, Iberis said, to “more than 87,000 food-insecure people.”

Second Harvest distributes the food through 148 programs such as church pantries, shelters for the homeless, soup kitchens, shelters for battered women and after-school programs.

This year the food bank continues to fill nearly 15,000 requests per week in the three counties.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.