Staff Report

HungerstateslogoAccording to the new Hunger in America study conducted nationally by Feeding America, residents would be surprised to learn the characteristics of the 841,000 hungry people in the community served yearly by Feeding America Tampa Bay (FATB).

“Too often, we associate being hungry with negative stereotypes, such as being homeless or uneducated, when that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Thomas Mantz, executive director of FATB. “The new Hunger in America data humanizes the hungry in our community by showing they’re largely families or seniors with homes. They truly are our neighbors, our friends, our fellow church members and our coworkers.”

Hunger in America 2014, the most comprehensive examination of hunger in the U.S., documents household demographics and offers a snapshot of the people served by FATB including their circumstances, the challenges they face and the choices they are forced to make living on extremely limited household incomes. It is also the first nationally-represented study that assesses the prevalence of past and current members of the U.S. Military and adult students receiving charitable food assistance.

Notable Tampa Bay findings from the Hunger in America study include:

• 1 in 6 Tampa Bay residents seeks food assistance through FATB. The food bank serves more than 841,000 people and 282,000 households annually.

• 24 percent of FATB clients, or 200,000, are children.

• 19 percent of FATB clients, or 160,000, are senior citizens.

• 75 percent of FATB clients, or 631,000, choose between paying for food and utilities.

• 59 percent of FATB clients, or 496,000, eat expired food.

• 94 percent of FATB clients live in non-temporary housing: 23 percent have their own mortgage or own their home outright, and 71 percent lease or rent their home.

• A majority of clients have invested in their education, with 43 percent receiving a high school diploma/GED and 29 percent either completing some college or graduating from college.

• Armed services are also prevalent among FATB clients, as 19 percent of households either have or has had someone serve in the military.

• Medical issues and bills also play a major role in Tampa Bay, as 24 percent of FATB client households have at least one member in poor health and 56 percent of households have medical bills to pay.

The study arrives just before September, which is Hunger Action Month. FATB will be working throughout the month to help raise the profile of hunger in the Tampa Bay community. The public will be invited to participate in the awareness initiative through food and fund drives, as well as other special events like the 24-hour Sort-a-Thon on Friday, September 12. More details can be found at feedingamericatampabay. wordpress.com/.

“The Hunger in America study sheds light on what is normally an invisible issue. We hope the magnitude of hunger in our community inspires people to take action and join the fight against hunger,” said Mantz.

For a detailed report of the Hunger in America findings, visit www.FeedingAmericaTampaBay.org.  Visit feedingamericatampabay.word press.com/tag/brandon/ for a list of local pantries where interested indivdiuals can donate food.