More than 189,000 people were served by the Food Bank of South Central Michigan last year.
That's one of the findings of the latest report on hunger conducted by the food bank and the national group Feeding America. The Food Bank of South Central Michigan's Director of Fund Development, Dan Salerno, told WMUK's Gordon Evans that the report was compiled through a survey of clients of the emergency food services providers in the eight county region served by the food bank. He says the providers were also surveyed.
Those more than 189,000 people who receive food assistance are making "very very difficult choices." Salerno says some of the clients are having to make decisions about buying food, or paying the rent or a house payment. He says about 20% of the people receiving food assistance are working. But Salerno says they are often in entry level jobs without benefits.
That leads to another issue, Salerno says: Many of those people suffer from medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. That's exacerbated by many people buying cheaper food that is not nutritious. Salerno says the food bank works to make sure that people getting food assistance receive fresh fruits and vegetables. He says they also check carefully for food that is close to or past its expiration date.
Salerno says the report does show a high demand for food assistance. But he says there is a strong network of volunteers at agencies throughout the region and support from foundations, corporations and individuals that helps to meet the need in Southwest Michigan.