Food insecurity refers to the USDA’s measure of lack of regular access to nutritional food for an active and healthy life. Feeding America estimates that the food insecurity rate in Portage County is 16.2 percent of the total population, a 29 percent increase caused by COVID-19. The child food insecurity rate is 24.8 percent, a 40 percent increase caused by the pandemic.
Food Insecurity Rate
Child Food Insecurity Rate
Your Foodbank’s Response
In 2020, your Foodbank distributed 1,944,199 pounds of food and essential items to families in need in Portage County, the equivalent of 1,567,372 meals. Of that, 338,275 pounds was fresh, nutritious produce, which was distributed for free.
Your support helps Melodie
It was a sunny day in April on a residential street when the local food pantry opened its doors for its grocery distribution. Neighbors were chatting with one another across porch swings, families waiting for the bus under the shade of a tree. It seemed like a peaceful, spring day, but approaching the church doors it was clear things were not running as normal, everyone was wearing a protective mask.
In the weeks after the coronavirus pandemic shut down businesses, schools, restaurants and everything else deemed “nonessential,” families have been struggling to make ends meet. People with full-time jobs who have never had to ask for help before, are standing in food lines or reaching out to the Foodbank looking for help.
This is where we met Melodie. She learned of the grocery distribution from a family member. She was loading her car with a cartload of pantry staples and fresh produce. “I really appreciate these people being here. This food helps supplement me, all the green veggies and fresh produce.”
Melodie had a steady job that paid the bills but was laid off two weeks ago. The company she worked for couldn’t keep her on the payroll with its doors closed. When we spoke with her, she had not yet received an unemployment check and was having a difficult time keeping up on bills while also buying groceries.
“We’re not in a good financial place right now, so I really appreciate this help. It means we get to eat another day.”