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Addressing alarming increase in hunger
By Chris Barnett / December 26, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...

Sparked by a recent report that hunger is at a 10-year high in Rhode Island and the state has the highest poverty rate in New England, the Rhode Island Foundation today announced a $100,000 donation to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and challenged  Rhode Islanders to pitch in during this time of extraordinary need.

"The purpose of this grant is not only to address the alarming increase in hunger in our state, but it's also hopefully to provide leadership and to inspire Rhode Islanders to support the charities of their choice as well as to help those in need going into the winter months," said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

The announcement comes as proposed federal cuts to safety net programs threaten to overwhelm the state’s straining food pantries, which are already near capacity. According to the Food Bank’s 2017 Report on Hunger, hunger in Rhode Island is at its highest rate in 10 years.

“At the Food Bank, we’re already serving 57,000 Rhode Islanders each month through our network of member agencies,” said Andrew Schiff, the Food Bank’s CEO. “Cuts to safety net programs like SNAP and WIC will increase the number of people seeking food assistance and we will need to find additional support to serve them. In addition, many of our clients have already been without benefits for months due to the troubled launch of the state’s UHIP system.”

The donation is among the largest the organization has received this year, according to Food Bank officials. The money will pay for more than 300,000 pounds of food-- enough to provide an additional 372,000 meals over and above its normal activity.

“We’re so grateful for this generous gift from the Foundation,” said Schiff. “In addition to helping us purchase food, we hope it sparks more Rhode Islanders to take action and provide assistance to our neighbors in need.”

The Food Bank will work with soup kitchens, senior centers and food pantries in more than a dozen cities and towns to get the food into the hands of Rhode Islanders. The Community Action Partnership of Providence and the Emanuel Lutheran Church in West Warwick are among the agencies that will benefit from the Foundation’s grant.

“Many of the clients we see have nowhere else to turn,” said Lihna Agostini of CAPP. “They either don’t qualify for assistance or they’re not receiving it due to the problems with UHIP so they come to our pantry to put food on their shelves. And there are times when our shelves are practically bare because we have so many people to serve.”

The grant will enable the Food Bank to purchase staples such as baked beans, rice, tomato soup, canned carrots, corn and peas; and fresh produce to distribute to its member agencies.

“Our food pantry reaches as many people as we can with the resources we have available,” said Myron Gadoury of the Emanuel Lutheran Church. “But we need more assistance and this support from the Rhode Island Foundation will truly help us reach those who need it most.”



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