They have jobs but still need help supporting their families

They have jobs but still need help supporting their families

The mix of locals who visit the Enfield Food Shelf in Connecticut has changed a lot in recent years.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many elderly or disabled people were on fixed incomes, said Kathleen Souvigney, the food pantry’s executive director for the past decade.

But now, more people seeking help are working families who are struggling to make ends meet as their living costs skyrocket. Paying for childcare, housing, cars, heating and other basic needs does not leave enough money these days for food, which has also risen sharply in price, Souvigney heard many times.

“Most of the new people are working families,” he said. “Most jobs don’t pay enough to manage expenses and keep some savings. It seems now that an unexpected expense is tipping people’s finances.”

Although the US economy is strong by many measures, millions of Americans still cannot afford to buy enough food for themselves and their families. The share of people turning to hunger relief programs remains higher than before the pandemic.

Just over 1 in 10 adults – more than 23 million people – live in a household where there was either sometimes or often not enough food to eat during the past week, according to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, taken in March. In Connecticut, where the median income is higher than the US median, the share is closer to 1 in 8.

The ongoing inflation that began in 2021 has slowed, but prices remain much higher and continue to weigh on wallets. Grocery costs are about 33.5% higher than they were at the start of the pandemic, according to Datasembly’s Grocery Price Index, which tracks prices at more than 150,000 stores nationwide. Even though jobs are plentiful and wage increases finally surpassed inflation last year, wages aren’t proving fat enough for many people. What’s more, much of the pandemic support that helped sustain Americans — including enhanced child tax credits, student loan payment deferrals and more food stamp benefits — has expired.

“It’s a tough environment for people,” said Jason Jakubowski, CEO of Connecticut Foodshare, the state’s food bank, which works with more than 600 food pantries, meal programs and mobile distribution sites that provide more than 40 million meals a year. last fiscal year. “We’re at a point where the need is almost the same as it was at the height of the pandemic.”

Greater need
Although Khamphay Khen works full-time as a supervisor at a distribution company and has a part-time position as a technician’s assistant at a fast food restaurant, he still has trouble providing for all the needs of his family of six.

So she has been visiting local Enfield pantries since 2021 to pick up meat, pasta, spaghetti sauce, bread, cereals and fruit and vegetables. At first, he went every two weeks, but now the 48-year-old drops in every week as his expenses mount — even though he’s received handsome raises from his main employer in recent years.

“The need is greater. The cost is still high. High gas prices. Owning a house is a struggle,” said Khen, who recently had to shell out $1,400 to get new tires, replace the starter and do other repairs on his 2005 Honda Odessey. “Every time I look at my bank account, it’s always declining.”

The pantry helps keep her grocery bills under control, saving her an estimated $30 to $50 a week, so she has funds to spend on other needs for herself and her family. Khen is also trying to throw money away because he has muscular dystrophy and knows he won’t be able to work as much in the future.

Khen, who considers herself lower middle class, never thought she would need to visit a food pantry because she had been working since she was a teenager.

“I’m in a good place, but not a great place,” he said.

The Enfield Food Shelf serves between 300 and 400 households a week. In addition to food, the nonprofit also provides other items, such as clothing, laundry detergent, diapers and pet food.

Like many other pantries, Enfield saw a surge in people seeking help when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. But the demand has yet to subside – in part because many pandemic assistance programs have expired.

When special food stamp improvements expire nationwide in March 2023, recipients’ monthly benefits will shrink by about $90, on average. Since then, Enfield has seen a 20% jump in households seeking help, bringing the total to 1,126 visiting the pantries.

“People are trying to keep their budget at the grocery store, but the food isn’t enough to feed their families,” Souvigney said, noting that most shoppers come three times a month.

Food banks across the country are also experiencing greater demand. About 75% of food banks reported seeing an increase in the number of people served in February compared to the previous year, according to a recent survey from Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks and more than 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs. .

About one in six adults said their household had received charity food in the past year, up from nearly one in eight in 2019, according to the Urban Institute report.

In addition to rising prices, another pressure for many middle-class families is that their wages are not keeping up with inflation as well as the wages of their counterparts at the bottom and top of the income ladder, said Chloe East, visiting fellow at The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. That’s one reason why working Americans are turning to food pantries.

“Even though there are a lot of jobs available, and the unemployment rate is low, we’re seeing food insecurity increase,” East said. “And now food insecurity is as bad as it was in the first few months of the pandemic.”

About Kepala Bergetar

Kepala Bergetar Kbergetar Live dfm2u Melayu Tonton dan Download Video Drama, Rindu Awak Separuh Nyawa, Pencuri Movie, Layan Drama Online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *