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Report: Increasing Number of Ohioans Facing Hunger Crisis

March 31, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A landmark study finds more than 1,430,000 people receive emergency food each year through Ohio's network of food banks and the agencies they serve. This number, from "Hunger in Ohio 2010," represents an 18-percent increase in households experiencing very low food security compared to that in a similar survey reported in 2006. In any given week, the report says, more than 225,000 Ohioans receive emergency food assistance.

The executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, says while some say the recession is over, that does not seem to be the case, judging by the longer lines at food pantries and soup kitchens.

"More and more Ohioans are finding themselves in a situation -- either through the loss of a job, a reduction in the number of hours they are working or a health crisis -- where they are not able to make ends meet."

However, Hamler-Fugitt says, there is a silver lining, because a new campaign has been launched to direct people to resources like the "Ohio Benefit Bank," a program that can help eligible individuals and families access public benefits.

Hamler-Fugitt says too many Ohioans are forced to make choices for their families that no one should have to make.

"More than half have to make choices between food and utilities, 43 percent between food and rent or a mortgage, and another 42 percent are making choices between food, medicine and medical care. It is shocking; it is morally reprehensible."

The results of this study will be shared with state lawmakers so they can better shape future policy to help those in need, Hamler-Fugitt promises.

"Ohio will never recover if we allow hunger to grow at the rate it is currently growing in the state. Now is the time to get back to basics, and there is nothing more basic than food."

The campaign asks all Ohioans to alert anyone they may know who is in need to the support services. Information is at www.obb.ohio.gov or by calling 1-800-648-1176.

The study is available at www.oashf.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH