Masonic Angel Fund News

Up ]

Masonic Angel Foundation Special Broadcast
November 12, 2003 -
New Data Shows the Number of Hungry Families with Children in Massachusetts Is on the Rise  

November 8, Boston – Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread, was joined today by Deborah A. Frank, M.D., director of Boston Medical Center’s Grow Clinic, as well as Carol Pacheo, elementary field representative, Boston Teacher’s Union, and Richard A. Medico, food service director, Chartwells, Revere Public Schools, at the Prevention Food Pantry at Boston Medical Center to announce the release of Feeding Our Children: A Project Bread Report on Hunger in Massachusetts. Dr. Frank will release new research from Boston Medical Center pediatrics as part of the national Children’s Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program (C-SNAP) funded by the W.K.K. Kellogg, Spinazzola Foundations, Project Bread, and many other local donors showing an increase in the percentage of children under three who are food insecure in 2001. Dr. Frank will also discuss preliminary data pointing to a correlation between food insecurity in these children and an increase in the number of hospitalizations. 

Feeding Our Children surveyed a sample of the 400 Project Bread
supported emergency food providers across Massachusetts and a comparison of the number of people served in October of 2001 by these providers with the number served in October of 2000. The report also analyzed the number of callers to Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline in October 2001. The Hotline provides information on resources to hungry Massachusetts’ residents who are unable to afford food. 

“One of the most compelling findings in our report is the fact that the number of calls to our Hotline last month is more than double the number of calls we received in October of 2000,” explained Ellen Parker. She added, “We also found that 89 percent of the pantries reported an increase in people served last month compared with 2000, and most of those served were families with children.”

“The Grow Clinic for Children is a Boston-based high-risk clinic for very young children who have the most severe symptoms of under nutrition,” stated Dr. Frank. “Within the Grow Clinic there has been a 46 percent increase in new referrals in less than one year. These children are so seriously underweight that they cannot be cared for in primary care settings,” noted Dr. Frank, “and this kind of increase in their number should ring public health alarm bells. We know that malnutrition impairs children's ability to fight infections and heal wounds in the short term and jeopardizes their learning ability in the long term.” 

The Massachusetts Economy, Poverty, and Hunger

Updated November 2003 

The complete article may be accessed at the Project Bread web site, click here

The following article and chart appeared in the Boston Herald 11/12/03

Study: Poor children going hungry in Mass.

by Thomas Caywood
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
 

In low-income neighborhoods across the state, one child in three doesn't know where the next meal is coming from, according to a disturbing study released yesterday.

The survey of 623 randomly selected households within the state's poorest neighborhoods also found one in five households in those areas couldn't meet their basic nutritional needs.

``Boy, there are two Massachusettses. There's the one that most of us know about, and another one where the hunger rates are closer to Texas and Utah, the worst in the country,'' said Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread, the statewide anti-hunger agency that funded the Center for Survey Research study.

Overall, Massachusetts has the second lowest level of hunger among states. But that statistic obscures the severity of the hunger problem here, Parker said.

The survey found one-third of children living in 63 census tracts in Boston are members of a family unable to reliably provide adequate food. A census tract usually includes between 2,500 and 8,000 people living in an area who share similar demographics.

``That's really upsetting to hear, but I wouldn't say I'm surprised,'' said Eliza Greenberg, the director of the city's Emergency Shelter Commission. ``It's something the city and Mayor (Thomas M.) Menino cares a lot about. We fund 106 food pantries in the city.''

Springfield, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, Worcester, Fall River, Lynn and Brockton also have numerous census tracts where the prevalence of hunger was nearly four times the state average, according to the study.

The survey results also didn't come as a surprise at area food pantries, where requests for assistance have been skyrocketing for years. The American Red Cross of Massachusetts is trying to keep up with a 32 percent jump in people coming into its food pantry for groceries this year.

``It's a little frightening because we think about what is the capacity of the emergency food network and how many people can we serve,'' said the pantry's Maureen Schnellmann.

Project Bread's Parker said as much as $100 million in federal anti-hunger funds go unclaimed in Massachusetts every year because school breakfast programs aren't available in all areas and many people who would qualify for food stamps don't apply.

Debbi Ford of The Greater Boston Food Bank, which distributes 20 million pounds of food annually to hundreds of local food pantries and soup kitchens, said the worsening hunger problem forced the bank to recently change its rules to allow agencies to pick up food twice a week instead of once.

``The economy certainly has had an impact, the downturn a few years ago and the sluggish recovery,'' as well as the high cost of housing in the Boston area, Ford said.