One in five Cuyahoga County residents, or 230,246 people in Cuyahoga County, lived below the poverty line in 2012. The poverty threshold for a family of four was $22,811 in 2012. More than 1 in 4 children (26.9%) in Cuyahoga County lived in poverty.
"We have seen a substantial increase in the number of people seeking help from us in the last five years," said Anne Goodman, Cleveland Foodbank CEO. "At a time when so many families find it very hard to put meals on the table, it is critical that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) program continues to be funded in such a way that it is available to all who need it during difficult economic times."
The numbers show that hunger and poverty continues to be not only a problem in Northeast Ohio but also nationally. Earlier this week, the Census Bureau released data which found that more than 46 million Americans are living in poverty.
On Thursday Congress passed a bill with more than $40 billion in cuts to SNAP as part of the Farm Bill reauthorization that would cause three to five million individuals across the nation to lose their food assistance entirely.
The cut would translate into about 1.5 billion lost meals for hungry families every year for the next 10 years. This is on top of the looming benefit reductions that will impact all SNAP participants starting in November 2013. The combined cuts would lead to more lost meals than the entire Feeding America network distributes in a year. The bill will now move to conference.
"The Cleveland Foodbank provided access to 34 million meals in 2012. There is no way our food bank will be able to make up the increase in need in our community if SNAP benefits are cut. We urge Congress to maintain Washington's historic bipartisan commitment to programs that serve vulnerable, low-income people and ensure strong funding for SNAP and other anti-hunger programs," said Goodman.
To make a donation or get involved, contact the Cleveland Foodbank at www.clevelandfoodbank.org or (216) 738-2265.