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New Census Numbers “No Surprise” to Ohio Foodbanks

September 23. 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - New U.S. Census numbers on poverty and income in Ohio show more people have fallen into poverty, and family incomes were down in 2010. The percentage of Ohioans in poverty ranges from 23 percent in Columbus to 34 percent in Cleveland and Dayton.

The news comes as no surprise to Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks. She says we all know someone who has been affected by the lingering recession.

"The data continues to confirm what we've seen; that poverty is up, incomes are down. More Ohioans, many for the first time ever, are finding themselves in a situation where they're not only threatened with hunger, but deeper poverty."

Hamler-Fugitt adds that Ohio's food banks could not meet current needs without support from federal nutrition programs, and those programs are among many targeted for budget cuts as Congress looks at ways to address larger economic problems.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman is one of the 12 members of the "super committee" making those recommendations.

"We do believe that this needs to be about shared sacrifice, but that neither our state, nor our national economy, will be able to recover unless our Congress sets basic needs as a top priority."

Hamler-Fugitt calls the latest data a wake-up call for investments in helping Ohioans get back to work, and to secure the long-worked-for retirements of seniors.

"Folks who have worked hard all of their lives, who have played by the rules, and through no fault of their own, they find themselves now in a situation of having to go to a food pantry or soup kitchen in order to feed themselves, and this really is about a set of national priorities."

She says Ohio's 12 Feeding America food banks and networks of local agencies have seen a 60 percent increase in the number of clients served.


Census numbers are at census.gov

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - OH