Stats: Some families choosing between paying utilities, buying groceries

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The economy may be improving, but the need to feed struggling families continues to be high.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank distributes almost ten million pounds of food every year to families in need.

Exclusive statistics obtained by Eyewitness News suggest that families often have to chose between paying their utilities or buying food, despite the fact that unemployment is improving in Rhode Island.

According to the United State Department of Agriculture, 54,000 Rhode Island households were food insecure from 2012 to 2014. That’s nearly 13 percent of all Rhode Islanders, or one in eight people, who lacked affordable, nutritious food.

“A third of the clients that we see are children, so when we talk about who are we, often it’s some of the most vulnerable people, it’s children and seniors,” said Hugh Minor of the RI Community Food Bank.

Victoria Yates, 65, is taking care of three young boys. She said she benefits from the generosity of others.

“To me, is so essential to not feel ashamed to go there to take. And fortunately, I feel like I’m giving back in having these kids,” she said.

Yates told Eyewitness News the Scouting for Food Drive, held by the Boy Scouts, is essential to helping put food on the tables of struggling families.

“When you hear a child say they’re hungry and you go to the cupboard and you don’t have anything in it, [that] is not the time to be ashamed or care about where food comes from,” Yates said. “If someone is willing to give it then you should be grateful to take it.”

You can help families in need by participating in the 28th Annual Scouting For Food Drive. Please put a plastic bag with nonperishable canned goods by your door or mailbox by 9 a.m. Saturday. The scouts will pick them up and deliver them to the food bank.

For more information, click here.

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