Hunger continues to rise in Vermont

11/20/08 7:04AM By Melody Bodette

(Host) Many Vermonters households are still struggling with hunger. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture study one in ten Vermont households lack access to enough food to feel secure and live healthy lifestyles.

The study also found that over 4 percent of the state's households experience the most severe measure of food insecurity, and sometimes go hungry. That places Vermont at the 14th highest in the nation for hunger. And the number has been increasing since the 1990s.

Joanne Heidkamp of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger says higher costs for food and housing and lower wages contribute to the increase.

And Heidkamp says next year's numbers are likely to be worse:

(Heidkamp) Across the board we're hearing that more people are seeking assistance, at local food shelves, at community meals, coming through lunch lines at school., applications for food stamps are up, so this study was actually completed a year ago, before we saw the biggest spike in food costs and fuel costs, so we know if these number were collected today the real story would be worse.

(Host) Since the end of the study the cost of food has risen over 7 percent, and prices for nutritious foods like bread, eggs and milk have increased even more.

Heidkamp says people can help their neighbors:

(Heidkamp) The other thing we can all do in our community is make people understand that these programs aren't charity, these programs bring money back into the Vermont economy, these programs strengthen Vermont by feeding people and bringing dollars into our community to buy food, pay farmers and create jobs in school food service.

(Host) Heidkamp says if the food stamp program were fully implemented, it could bring $80 million into the state.

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