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“Hungry” for the Holidays in MT

December 11, 2007

Missoula, MT – The cost of living in Montana is shooting up at double the rate of pay increases. Unemployment in the state is edging up, as well. Not surprisingly, visits to the state's food distribution sites have stepped up, too. The call has recently gone out that food bank shelves are nearly bare, even with the extra generosity of Montanans during the holidays.

Many food banks started the season with unusually empty shelves because donations to food banks have decreased. According to government statistics, one reason is because federal donations have slowed. The pending national Farm Bill would address that by boosting required donations to food banks.

Ashley White with the Children's Defense Fund says about 10 percent of Montana families are living with "food insecurity" this holiday season, and the food banks are having trouble meeting the demand.

"It's a time when many Americans reach out and volunteer to help families in need. There are families suffering this holiday from joblessness and poverty."

White says food insecurity is growing nationally, despite the generosity of others.

"It's just shameful that in this rich nation, 12.6 million children lived in households struggling against hunger in this past year."

According to the Montana Food Bank Network, visits to its distribution sites have doubled in recent years, to more than 700,000 requests for help last year.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MT