Over 25% of Delaware population gets emergency food help

    New numbers show more Delawareans received emergency food assistance from the Food Bank in 2009 than they dead the last time a study was done three years ago.

    A surprising number of Delawareans received assistance from the Food Bank of Delaware at some point over the last year.

    According to a study released today, 241,600 people came to the Food Bank of Delaware to get emergency food assistance in 2009.  Food Bank President and CEO Patricia Beebe says the numbers are almost overwhelming, “These numbers are to me, they are daunting, they’re depressing, they’re scary.”

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    Those who got emergency assistant account for about 27% of Delaware’s population.  Since the study was last done in 2006, the emergency assistant numbers have gone up by more than 150,000.  Beebe says the study shows that hunger problems have hit home for many, “It used to be, ‘those people over there were hungry,’ now it’s people we know or maybe us ourselves.”  She says many people are coming in for help for the first time in their lives.

    She says the economic downturn and high unemployment rate is mostly to blame, but there are some positive signs on the horizon.  “Some of our member agencies are reporting that there’s been a leveling off in requests,” says Beebe.  “I do have to honestly say that as an organization we are doing everything we can to look at new ways of bringing in resources.”

    One of those ways of bringing in resources is a measure introduced in the State House by Representative Bill Oberle (R- Beecher’s Lot).  HB 307 would send money that’s now being held by the state from unclaimed bottle deposits to food banks.  Beebe says the fund could be a major windfall, “That estimate for that dollar amount is everywhere from $12 million to $50 million.  That’s a lot of food.”  She admits there will likely be a lot of opposition, but it is something the state should look at especially in light of the major increase in residents seeking emergency food assistance.

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