More than 77,000 Rhode Islanders received some form of food assistance at pantries each month between January and September, up more than 30 percent compared to 2022, according to a report released Tuesday from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
The food bank also found that 29 percent of all households are facing food insecurity, which means they can’t always afford an adequate food supply. Even more concerning, 38 percent of households with children say they are experiencing food insecurity.
”Many families, even with two incomes, are simply unable to keep up with the rising costs of rent, utilities and food,” Andrew Schiff, CEO of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, said in a statement. “When you couple that with the end of several COVID-era benefits, it’s very concerning.”
The report shows that the food bank – through a network of 143 community agencies across the state – was serving about 52,000 residents a month at pantries before the COVID-19 pandemic, but those numbers have spiked over the past four years.
In March, Congress ended its emergency allocation of additional benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that had been in place throughout the pandemic. The average household in Rhode Island lost $155 in benefits per month at a time when food costs have been on the rise, the report found.
The food bank is asking the General Assembly to increase state funding from $550,000 to $1 million in the next budget, and it’s also asking lawmakers to make school breakfast and lunch free for all students.
The organization is also urging Rhode Island’s congressional delegation to support increased benefits through the SNAP program and to reinstate the expanded child tax credit.
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