|N.C. struggles to put food on table|
|State is one of most food insecure in U.S.|
|Published Monday, March 4, 2013 7:04 pm|
RALEIGH – Many in North Carolina struggle to put food on their tables, despite an upturn in the state's economy.
The state ranks tenth for the number of people who say they didn't have enough money to buy food at least once in the last year. That equals more than 21 percent of the population, according to a report by the Food Research and Action Center.
According to Earline Middleton, vice president of agency services and programs at the Foodbank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, people in the 64 counties her agency serves are still struggling.
“We know the economy is improving but it hasn't trickled down yet," she declared. “It hasn’t trickled down to those people who've been looking for a job for two or three years.”
The southeastern and southwestern states are the two regions of the country where food hardship numbers are the highest, according to the report. It highlights the need to improve and expand the SNAP program, or food stamps.
This week, Middleton joins more than 700 others in Washington at a National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference that started Sunday.
As important as SNAP is, the FRAC report points out a weakness in the food stamp program: it says the benefit levels aren't high enough to enable people to purchase enough food. FRAC President Jim Weill noted that when people's nutritional needs aren't met it's difficult for them to move ahead in other aspects of their lives.
“We know from the research that that means parents and kids aren't doing as well at work and at school as they would be doing if they were consistently eating a healthy diet,” he said.
Weill said improving SNAP benefits would start with passing a farm bill in this legislative year that protects and strengthens the program. Some in Congress have suggested reducing benefits.
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