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Food Report: Hunger on Rise in Philadelphia

A new report on hunger in the Philadelphia area finds that emergency food providers are challenged to keep up with the growing demand. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.
A new report on hunger in the Philadelphia area finds that emergency food providers are challenged to keep up with the growing demand. Photo by Greg Stotelmyer.
July 30, 2015

PHILADELPHIA - Over the past year in Philadelphia one in four people faced times when he or she did not know where to find a next meal.

Tom Mahon, communications manager with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, says that's one of the findings from the organization's survey of the region's 700 emergency food providers.

The report also discovered nine out of every 10 providers either ran out of food, or had to provide less to those in need, at some point during the past 12 months.

"That's startling," says Mahon. "It just reinforced to us that we really can't rely solely on food pantries and soup kitchens, and other charitable organizations, to bring an end to hunger in our region."

Mahon says the report illustrates that while food pantries and soup kitchens are the last line of defense, they can't always meet the need, a need that is growing.

The coalition found 58 percent of the feeding programs sees more people now than a year ago, while another 34 percent reports a steady demand. Mahon says less than five percent reports a drop in the need.

"All you hear about mostly now is how the country as a whole is rebounding and we're kind of getting back on track to where we were pre-recession," he says. "It might be the case for some but for the folks that are in need, in desperate need of food assistance, it actually seems to be getting worse."

Mahon says the survey found a lack of food donations was a major barrier for three out of every five feeding programs.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - PA