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Utah's Hunger Issues Persist, Despite Economic Recovery

PHOTO: One in seven Utah residents lives with hunger, despite the nation's economy recovering, according to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center. Photo credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency.
PHOTO: One in seven Utah residents lives with hunger, despite the nation's economy recovering, according to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center. Photo credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency.
April 13, 2015

PROVO, Utah – Despite the economic recovery, one in seven people – or 15 percent of Utahns – live with hunger on an ongoing basis, according to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center.

Myla Dutton is executive director of he Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo, which serves hundreds of people every month. She says many of the organization's clients are families in which one or both parents are working multiple low-wage, part-time jobs, and still can't get by.

"More people with two or three part-time jobs, more of that than in the last seven or eight years,” she points out. “Families with a couple of children – it's really tough."

The report determines food hardship as people not having enough money at some point in the year to buy food for themselves or their families.

Dutton says her organization provided a million and a half meals to thousands of families last year.

The report also includes polling data that shows a majority of Americans oppose efforts by some in Congress to cut funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other government safety-net programs.

Dutton says the programs are vital for many people.

"As a food bank, we see daily the importance of the SNAP program – the food stamp program – the importance of WIC, and the other nutrition programs in schools, and helping families make it," she stresses.

Utah ranks 36th among states in the report, which says Mississippi, Louisiana, and West Virginia have the nation's highest rates of food hardship.

Troy Wilde/Scott Herron, Public News Service - UT