Delaware ranks just below Mississippi and Alabama in a Gallup survey of states with the highest number of residents struggling to afford food.
The survey found that 22.1 percent of Delaware residents did not have enough money for food at some point in the past year. Only Mississippi (22.9%) and Alabama (24.9%) had higher percentages. “It’s disturbing that the percentage is so high, I mean, it’s disturbing that anyone struggles for food in any day in any month, but those numbers are really high and it’s surprising that we’re aligned more closely with Alabama and Mississippi on this,” said Elaine Archangelo, Director of Delawaware’s Division of Social Services.
Barbara Markland of Newark is one of those Delawareans who struggle to afford food every week. “If it wasn’t for being helped with the food banks and the food closets, and stuff, I don’t know where I would be, cause right now I’m the only one working.”
Markland’s job at Christiana Hospital helps support her family of seven, including two newborn grandchildren. Her paycheck goes to pay rent and other bills, leaving nothing for food. “If there wasn’t anything to be given out I don’t know what I would do, I really don’t.” Markland doesn’t qualify for food stamps, making her struggle even more difficult.
The number of state residents who do qualify for food stamps has grown dramatically over the past decade. In 2001, there were 31,000 residents getting food stamps in Delaware. As of last month’s estimate, that number now stands at more than 148,000. Archangelo says the number has increased by 20 to 25 percent every year over the past six years. “Our focus really is on helping people not be hungry. So while they might struggle, our goal is to assure that they have the food they need in a month so that they and their children are not hungry.”
For Markland and her family, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet, just hope. “I have faith, and faith is a big word. I have faith that every day is different.”
You can watch Mark Eichmann’s story tonight on “First,” at 5:30 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.