Archive for Thursday, March 2, 2006

New report centers on food networks

Basehor agency sees consistent needs

March 2, 2006

Close to 200,000 area people -- or the population of Richmond, Va. -- seek emergency assistance each year from area food networks. And of that number, close to half -- 88,000 -- are children.
While the cost of food has steadily decreased in recent years, the number of people going hungry each day is on the rise both nationally and locally, according to a report released by Harvesters Community Food Network.
The report contends that hunger in the Kansas City metropolitan area has increased by 26 percent since 2001.
Many of those affected are children under the age of 18 and the working poor, families who have jobs but consistently struggle to make ends meet.
"That's simply wrong in a country where we produce enough food to feed every hungry person in the world," said Karen Haren, executive director of Harvesters.
Harvesters, the only food bank in the Kansas City metropolitan area, provides food and related household products to more than 550 not-for-profit assistance agencies in 13 counties including Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Johnson counties.
Only one such assistance agency, Basehor-Linwood Assistance Services, exists locally. And while not a part of the Harvester's network, BLAS director Debbie Dearinger said findings in their report don't surprise her and, she hopes, it will shed light on the growing problem of hunger.
"It happens here, too," she said.
BLAS, which serves residents in need within the 89 square miles of school district boundaries, has seen sharp increases in the number of families it serves. The agency provides food and utility relief to families in need.
"We always have people that need food," Dearinger said. "And I would say a majority of them, almost all of them, have children."
Dearinger said people can help make a difference by donating to BLAS, which serves the local community.
"Our demand (for utility assistance) goes down as it gets warmer," she said, "but we always, always need food.
"That doesn't change just because it gets warmer."

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