Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Food donations decline, especially in Appalachia where poverty and hunger rates remain high

Financial Times map
In some economically distressed areas, especially rural Appalachian communities, food insecurity is on the rise, while food donations have steadily declined, Pam Fessler reports for NPR. Data show that one in eight Americans—42 million people—still struggles to get enough to eat.

In some areas, like Buchanan County in the Appalachian Mountains in Southwest Virginia, numbers are much higher, with the poverty rate at 29 percent, twice the national average, Fessler writes. Feeding America—a network of food banks across the country—says that in Buchanan County about 16 percent of residents have trouble getting enough to eat. Feeding America, which once had 13 mobile pantries in Southwest Virginia, now has nine.

Pamela Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding America Southwest Virginia, said there are several reasons for the decline in donations, Fessler reports. She said "food manufacturers are much better these days at controlling inventory, so they have less surplus food to give to food banks like hers. She also gets fewer rejects, like dented or mislabeled cans."

Another reason is that coal companies, many of which have gone out of business, used to be some of the food bank's biggest donors, Fessler writes. Irvine also cites donor fatigue, with people starting to get tired of being asked for more money now that the recession is over. Feeding America says donations nationally also are on the decline.

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