Food insecurity grows in RI as prices rise
Despite a strong economy, more Rhode Islanders are worried about food than they were 10 years ago.
Rhode Island’s economy is doing well, but one in 8 Rhode Islanders are still nervous about having enough food on the table, according to the Rhode Island Food Bank’s 2018 Status Report on Hunger. The Food Bank released the report in November.
“The R.I. economy is thriving, unemployment is at 3.8 percent, which is remarkably low, and wages are beginning to grow, and that’s all good,” Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff told the Providence Journal. “But wages have not kept up with the real cost of living in terms of housing and energy and food.”
Among them are more than 36,000 households receiving SNAP benefits. The households represent 55,000 Rhode Islanders, mostly children.
The report notes that food prices – partly driven by gas costs – rose significantly for low-income families over the past three years.
The Providence Journal explained that Food Bank workers identified 71 items that a family of four would need for one week. Over three summers, the costs of those products increased 15 percent. Wages, on the other hand, had increased only 5 percent during the same period.
Some proof of the problem may be seen in the Food Bank’s growing service. Over the past 10 years, its member agencies went from serving an average 37,000 people every month to 53,000, the ProJo noted.
Trump food tariffs may worsen the situation, but a newly-elected Democratic House majority may avert previously proposed cuts in SNAP and other agricultural programs.