Hunger up in Massachusetts, report finds FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 01:12:08 -0400


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=46WD  Boston Globe - 11/16/98; page B01


HUNGER RISING IN STATE, REPORT FINDS
By Francie Latour, Globe Staff


Don't let a child go hungry.

It is the kind of plea that normally gnaws at the soul from a safe distance
- in front of a television set late at night, as celebrities clad in khakis
walk through Third World shantytowns and promise letters from a bony,
wide-eyed child for a pledge no greater than the price of a cup of coffee.

But a report about who goes hungry in Massachusetts, compiled by doctors
and hunger specialists over the past year and released today by US
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, paints a picture that no amount of
channel-flipping will make disappear: Food banks are reporting longer
lines, and, increasingly, the people waiting for a helping of food are
children and working families.

Statewide, 63 percent of emergency food programs said the demand for food
aid rose in 1997. Almost half of all food providers, 49 percent, saw an
increase in the number of families with children needing food, according to
Project Bread and the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Tufts University,
which conducted the survey.

And, in a statistic that chips away at the image of the elderly, homeless,
and drug-addicted drifting into soup kitchens for Thanksgiving, the report
found that 35 percent of clients served by food programs are children. Of
the adults who bury their shame to stand in line and wait for food rations,
close to one-third, or 27 percent, have a job.

The rise in the use of soup kitchens and food pantries comes as
Massachusetts and the nation continue to celebrate a booming economy, an
unemployment rate that has plummeted, and budget surpluses heralded by
lawmakers on Beacon Hill. It also comes as thousands of families statewide
are slated to lose welfare benefits Dec. 1 as part of federal welfare
reform laws.

''I think the most astounding thing about the report is, in most people's
minds, the fact that there is hunger in Massachusetts,'' Kennedy said
yesterday in a telephone interview.

Kennedy, who launched the child hunger initiative last year in a bipartisan
effort with Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II,
participated in the task force that visited seven Massachusetts communities
- Athol, Boston, Fall River, Lowell, Orange, Springfield, and Worcester.

Citing statistics from the US Department of Agriculture, Kennedy said, ''If
you ever told ordinary citizens of our state that there are 60,000 kids who
are going hungry every night, or 15,000 kids who are chronically
malnourished in this state, they just would not believe you. ... This is a
vexing, constant problem, but one that is eminently solvable.''

Ordinary citizens tell the stories of struggle and stomach pains that
appear throughout the 70-page report. As part of the survey, hunger
specialists, doctors, and other officials conducted interviews with dozens
of families who said that, strapped with low wages, high rents, and
mounting bills, food has become the necessary sacrifice.

''I used to donate food to the food pantry. I always thought, `There's
someone out there who needs it,''' said Karen Norman of Worcester, a mother
of three young children who said her recent divorce, lack of affordable
child care, and her children's illnesses have kept her in a cycle of
low-paying, short-term jobs.

''Now all I have left is pictures of when I had a very nice life. ... When
I leave the kitchen, I can hear my 5-year-old say to my 8-year-old, `How
come we can't have breakfast and lunch?' and my 8-year-old says, `We have
to stretch out the food.'''

END FORWARD
-
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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=46WD  Boston Globe - 11/16/98; page B01



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>HUNGER RISING IN STATE, REPORT
=46INDS

By Francie Latour, Globe Staff

</paraindent>


Don't let a child go hungry.=20


It is the kind of plea that normally gnaws at the soul from a safe
distance - in front of a television set late at night, as celebrities
clad in khakis walk through Third World shantytowns and promise letters
from a bony, wide-eyed child for a pledge no greater than the price of
a cup of coffee.=20


But a report about who goes hungry in Massachusetts, compiled by
doctors and hunger specialists over the past year and released today by
US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, paints a picture that no amount
of channel-flipping will make disappear: Food banks are reporting
longer lines, and, increasingly, the people waiting for a helping of
food are children and working families.=20


Statewide, 63 percent of emergency food programs said the demand for
food aid rose in 1997. Almost half of all food providers, 49 percent,
saw an increase in the number of families with children needing food,
according to Project Bread and the Center on Hunger and Poverty at
Tufts University, which conducted the survey.=20


And, in a statistic that chips away at the image of the elderly,
homeless, and drug-addicted drifting into soup kitchens for
Thanksgiving, the report found that 35 percent of clients served by
food programs are children. Of the adults who bury their shame to stand
in line and wait for food rations, close to one-third, or 27 percent,
have a job.=20


The rise in the use of soup kitchens and food pantries comes as
Massachusetts and the nation continue to celebrate a booming economy,
an unemployment rate that has plummeted, and budget surpluses heralded
by lawmakers on Beacon Hill. It also comes as thousands of families
statewide are slated to lose welfare benefits Dec. 1 as part of federal
welfare reform laws.=20


''I think the most astounding thing about the report is, in most
people's minds, the fact that there is hunger in Massachusetts,''
Kennedy said yesterday in a telephone interview.=20


Kennedy, who launched the child hunger initiative last year in a
bipartisan effort with Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph C. Martin
II, participated in the task force that visited seven Massachusetts
communities - Athol, Boston, Fall River, Lowell, Orange, Springfield,
and Worcester.=20


Citing statistics from the US Department of Agriculture, Kennedy said,
''If you ever told ordinary citizens of our state that there are 60,000
kids who are going hungry every night, or 15,000 kids who are
chronically malnourished in this state, they just would not believe
you. ... This is a vexing, constant problem, but one that is eminently
solvable.''


Ordinary citizens tell the stories of struggle and stomach pains that
appear throughout the 70-page report. As part of the survey, hunger
specialists, doctors, and other officials conducted interviews with
dozens of families who said that, strapped with low wages, high rents,
and mounting bills, food has become the necessary sacrifice.=20


''I used to donate food to the food pantry. I always thought, `There's
someone out there who needs it,''' said Karen Norman of Worcester, a
mother of three young children who said her recent divorce, lack of
affordable child care, and her children's illnesses have kept her in a
cycle of low-paying, short-term jobs.=20


''Now all I have left is pictures of when I had a very nice life. ...
When I leave the kitchen, I can hear my 5-year-old say to my
8-year-old, `How come we can't have breakfast and lunch?' and my
8-year-old says, `We have to stretch out the food.'''


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is=
 distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in=
 receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *=
*


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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