More Rhode Islanders forced to rely on food bank

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — With unemployment at 7.6% in Rhode Island it’s difficult for the state’s working poor to feed their families, and the number of people relying on the state’s food bank has increased exponentially over the past decade.

The challenging economy has hit Jessica Masse’s family hard. While her husband works part-time, it’s not enough for Jessica and her four children – so life becomes a juggling act.

“I will go sometimes without eating, because they come first.” she said. “Sometimes I have to overlap bills. not paying the electric or gas. Give it a one-month gap before I pay it, so I have enough to pay for food expenses.”

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank and its member agencies serve more than 63,000 families every month, which is double what that number was just ten years ago. Exclusive new data from the Hunger in America Study by Feeding America shows that 70% of food bank clients choose between paying a utility bill or buying groceries, 68% choose between paying for medicine or buying food, and 62% choose between paying rent or buying groceries.

Places like the East Bay Food Pantry in Bristol are vital to those types of families.

“Food pantries that are members of our food network are really playing a critical role making sure there’s still food for their families when the money runs out at the end of the month,” said Cindy Edler, Director of Communications for the RI Community Food Bank.

For families like the Masses, it provides food for her children, who know their mom is doing her best.

“I told them rent or food, utilities or this. So it’s a balance of bills,” she explained.

You can help thousands of Rhode Islanders by participating in the Scouting for Food drive. Just replace the door hanger the Boy Scouts dropped off at your home with a bag filled with healthy, non-perishable canned goods.

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