by Natalie Kucko
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New findings from a recent poll through the Children’s Agenda surveyed 600 parents across Monroe County, and show staggering numbers on the level of food insecurity locally.
Among the most significant results, 61 percent with annual incomes under $100,000 reported they have started to ration food until their next paycheck.
Officials say the hope from the survey is to share more awareness toward funding and policy changes in areas they feel are most needed.
“Just when I thought I made it, the needle was moved again. Everything is more expensive with less resources to help just take care of my children,” said Danielle Jones, a Rochester mother of two.
Jones is also a mental health counselor in the Rochester area, and sees firsthand the similar struggles she faces on her own to provide for her family.
With the expiration of additional SNAP benefits earlier this year, Jones says it has put families like hers in a bind.
“I want my son to take a snack to school every day if he chooses to do so. I want him to take a lunch of his choice every day if that’s what he wants to do,” said Jones, “The income guidelines for SNAP need to reflect the times we are living in. Rental rates are high, cost of food is high, cost of living is high. So, why are the income guidelines not matching that at this time?”
Within the poll, half of parents with lower incomes nearly 30 percent of parents with middle incomes reported skipping meals so their child can eat.
78 percent of low-income families and 41 percent of middle-income families also reported rationing food between paychecks.
Officials hope this will draw attention from the state legislature to key issues they would like to see pass, including the Working Families Tax Credit, universal school meals, and child care.
“We think it’s really important that policymakers be aware of what parents have to say, and the barriers they’re facing in their life, and the solutions they need in the way of funding and policy changes,” said Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda.
Meanwhile, Foodlink has spent $10 million on purchased food this year alone, the most in the nonprofit’s history, to help meet the demand and keep food pantries stocked.
“We’re seeing that firsthand from all of our partners. They are unable to keep up with the demand, but we know for sure it’s not getting better. We’re seeing more and more visits with each month of families turning to that,” said Julia Tedesco, president and CEO of Foodlink.
Those looking for immediate resources can visit Foodlink’s website, for more on the available food pantries, pop-up pantries, and meal programs within their network.
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The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.