‘Food insecure’ RI families drop in number, but struggle continues

rhode island food bank

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of Rhode Island households remain “food insecure,” where they’re struggling to make ends meet and may not be sure where their next meal is coming from.

This coming Saturday, the 29th annual Scouting for Food drive will bring Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts throughout Rhode Island’s neighborhoods to pick up food donations benefiting people in need.

“It’s really difficult wondering how you’re going to get through each day, how you’re going to pay your bills… Trying to be strong for your son,” said Kristi Bussler of North Providence, who lost her job last year.

Yes, there’s been a drop in unemployment. And the number of food insecure households in Rhode Island has dropped from 60,000 to 54,000 this month, according to USDA statistics.

But many seniors and children may still be going to bed hungry around the state.

Kristi’s son is 12. To feed him and herself, she’s been getting food at the St. Vincent de Paul pantry at St. Philip’s Catholic Parish in Smithfield. It’s one of 167 member agencies served by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank — food pantries, meal sites, shelters and youth and senior programs.

Kristi said taking the step of reaching out to get help from the food bank was difficult. “It was really hard. To try to swallow your pride, to try to — you know — get food.

“But when you have desperate measures… You really have to [reach out]. You need food on the table. That’s what you have to do.”

54,000 households — plenty with multiple people at home — are faced with that choice. “Those folks are not able to — on a monthly basis — acquire enough food to feed their families,” said the food bank’s Hugh Minor.

It’s essential to make healthy foods available, he added: “More than 30 percent of the people we serve are children, and they need healthy nutritious food. Another 20 percent are seniors, and their health is just as critical. So, we have to rely on giving them food that’s going to keep them healthy.”

It may be hard to convince yourself. But Kristi says asking for help is nothing to be ashamed about.

“I’m not ashamed, because I’m putting food on the table for my son,” she said.

Scouting for Food door hangerIf you received a door hanger last weekend, you’re asked to please leave a plastic bag filled with non-perishable canned goods on your doorstep or outside your home. The Scouts will pick it up early Saturday morning and take it to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

If you’d like to donate and didn’t get a door hanger, go to the Food Bank’s web site for information.

WPRI 12 and Fox Providence are proud sponsors of Scouting for Food.