Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

July 16, 2013

Study shows hunger a problem here

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A recent study puts numbers to the realities of just how desperate daily life can be for many when it comes to hunger, including those right here in Garvin County.

This new study concludes more than 3,700 people in this county, including nearly 1,500 children, do now always know where they will find their next meal.

The research was released by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, in partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

In all, more than 13 percent of the population in Garvin County struggle with hunger, according to the study.

Angie Gaines of the food bank group in Oklahoma says the study shows the extent of the hunger problem here and what she calls “food insecurity.”

“Hunger is a silent issue,” Gaines said. “A lot of times people know a friend, a neighbor who is struggling with hunger.

“Hunger is next door in your community. A lot of times people just don’t know,” she said.

“With data like this it reinforces the fact there are people struggling with hunger out there.”

The findings are from Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” study, which estimates the rate of food insecurity for both the general population and for children under the age of 18.

The estimates are calculated at both the county and congressional-district level for the entire United States.

“This puts into statistics and shows there are people out there who are hungry,” Gaines said.

“It’s meant to raise awareness, whether it’s donating or volunteering. We encourage people to get involved,” she said adding a $1 donation provides five meals.

The study concludes the cost of an average meal in Garvin County is $2.56, which compares to the national average of $2.67.

The number of just more than $1.5 million also comes from the study for the annual food budget shortfall in this county, meaning the amount of additional money that food insecure individuals in Garvin County said they would need to put enough food on the table for an adequate diet.

More than 50 million people nationwide are food insecure, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Put in simple terms, Gains said the study shows about one in six people in Oklahoma struggle with hunger.

A study like this one also allows the Regional Food Bank to better identify the areas where it can best help.

“This helps us fine tune where the need is,” she said.

In Garvin County the Regional Food Bank partners with the Pauls Valley Samaritans, Eastern Gate Baptist Church, Delta Community Action in Pauls Valley, SONP in PV and Lindsay, United Methodist Church in Lindsay and First United Methodist Church in Paoli.