if you think people who are hungry are only those who are without jobs, think again.
Hunger. It is a constant reality for anyone living in poverty. With limited income, many individuals and families must make the impossible choice between paying their rent or buying food to feed their family.
There are over 750,000 people (one in every 8) in Maryland who are food insecure, meaning they don’t have consistent access to nutritious food. Many of those people live in Baltimore City, where the food insecurity rate of 23% is by far the highest of any jurisdiction the state. 25% of citizens in Baltimore City live in a food desert, meaning they do not have easy access to a supermarket where healthy, affordable food options may be found, and so they often find sustenance in fast food and convenience stores.
And if you think people who are hungry are only those who are without jobs, think again. Nearly half of Maryland’s hungry are working—people who hold a job but don’t earn enough to property feed themselves and their kids and still keep a roof over their heads.
Sadly, 1 in 4 of Baltimore City’s school aged children are hungry when they arrive to school—some having not eaten a full meal since they left school the day before. Children are the most vulnerable to the effects of persistent hunger as it reduces their ability to learn and has a negatively impacts their health, growth, and development. Furthermore, with one in every three children in Baltimore city living in a food desert, the lack of access to healthy food has caused the rates of childhood obesity to skyrocket, causing life-long health problems.
At St. Vincent de Paul, most of the clients we serve experience hunger on a frequent if not daily basis. A big part of the solution to hunger is increasing food access. Helping eligible, low income individuals and families access mainstream benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps) is essential. SNAP benefits have a big effect on the food security of recipients, making it easier for them to get the food they need. The SNAP program reduces the number of households with children in the U.S. living in extreme poverty by about half, and is truly a lifeline for many families.
However, even for those with access to SNAP, the benefits provided are not enough, and low-income individuals and families often need additional help in accessing food resources and obtaining supplemental food assistance. For this reason, we offer services at St. Vincent de Paul to meet our clients’ needs for supplemental food and meals, and last year served more than 2 million meals.
Beans & Bread—Over 300 meals are provided each day including both breakfast and lunch to low income and homeless individuals.
Sarah’s Hope--600 meals and after-school snacks are served each day to the homeless families who reside there at our two family shelters.
Head Start--1,400 meals are served each day to preschool students.
Camp St. Vincent--300 meals and healthy snacks are served each day to homeless children during the summer months.
KidzTable—Over 5,000 fresh, nutritious meals are provided each day to children and youth at area schools and pre-schools, day care centers, after school programs and summer camps in the greater Baltimore area.
Food Pantries—Over $500,000 in food assistance is provided through our network of 38 parish-based conference volunteer groups.