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2017 Status Report on Hunger

2017 Status Report on Hunger Released

Women with fresh vegetablesEach year, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank releases its Status Report on Hunger, calling attention to the issues around hunger in the state of Rhode Island.

Download the 2017 Status Report on Hunger in Rhode Island.

MAJOR FINDINGS

  • Congress is planning to take away tens of billions of dollars from safety-net programs, including vital health and nutrition programs.
  • The prevalence of hunger in Rhode Island is at its highest level in ten years.
  • Access to needed benefits was blocked and delayed this year by the defective launch of the State’s new eligibility system.
  • The Rhode Island Community Food Bank and its network of member agencies are operating near capacity, serving 57,000 people each month, and cannot possibly compensate for major cuts to federal nutrition programs.

Congress Proposes Cuts to Key Programs

Using SNAP benefitsCongress is prepared to make significant cuts to safety-net programs that thousands of Rhode Islanders rely on. Under this plan, Rhode Island will lose $90 million in SNAP benefits annually. SNAP is a federal program that helps low-income households purchase food, and is the largest source of meals for low-income Rhode Islanders. In addition, instead of operating as a national program, SNAP will be converted into a fixed, lump sum block grant to each state. During the next economic recession or downturn, when more people need food assistance, Rhode Island will be forced to ration these limited SNAP benefits.

Hunger at a New High Level in Rhode Island

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts an annual survey of food security for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on a representative sample of all households. The survey asks about a household’s resources and their access to adequate food, such as relying on low-cost foods, skipping meals, or not eating due to having too little money for food.

The most recent USDA survey found that one in eight Rhode Island households (12.8%) cannot afford adequate food.2 Nearly half of these food insecure households reported the most severe conditions associated with hunger. The prevalence of hunger, termed “very low food security” by the USDA, reached 6.1 percent in 2016, affecting 26,800 households.

For more, read the entire 2017 Status Report on Hunger in Rhode Island.

Action Steps

The Food Bank encourages Rhode Islanders to advocate at the state and national level to prevent devastating cuts to safety net programs. We recommend the following steps:

  • Urge Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation to oppose cuts to SNAP, school meals and other critical safety-net programs.
  • Ask the Governor to repair UHIP and restore SNAP benefits for eligible families who were unfairly denied in the past year.
  • Advocate for working families by telling state senators and representatives to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • Support additional state funding for the Food Bank to meet the continued high need for food assistance.

For previous versions of our Status Report on Hunger, visit our Publications Page.