New Hunger Stats for Eastern Iowa Area

People all over America, including right here in Iowa, go hungry every day. It's something many don't think about, but a new study proves hunger is a problem.

A new Feeding America report shows that almost 13 percent of Iowans worry about whether they'll have enough to eat. That amounts to more than 380,000 people.

Iowa's numbers are less than the national average of about 16.5 percent, but they're still cause for concern. In Linn County, more than 25,000 people could be at risk of going hungry.

Ashley McCann is a single mother who struggled to meet her most basic needs.

"I came to the Catholic Worker House with just the clothes on my back and pictures," she said.

The Catholic Worker House and local food pantries helped calm her hunger pains and get her life back.

"It doesn't feel right to go without food. You need food to survive," McCann said.

Ashley's story is all too familiar to places like the Linn Community Food Bank.

"So many of them are out of work, or have had their hours cut," Sue Pearson of the Linn Community Food Bank said.

The Linn Community Food Bank helped 323 families last month, that's a fifty percent increase compared to February.

"The need keeps growing every year, every month," Pearson said.

The HACAP Food Bank staff blames those increases on a variety of factors.

"You have people and families coming in that have been affected by shutdowns, layoffs, reduced hours, all of that," Barb Elsasser of the HACAP Food Res. Program said.

HACAP provides food to many of the local food pantries in the area and has also struggled to get enough donations.

Elsasser said, "The need is so great. We keep coming back to the community saying, 'Can you give more?'"

Fortunately for people like Ashley, Iowans continue to be generous, despite the economy.

"Now that I have the things I need and some of the things I want, I feel like a better person. I feel that I can do anything," McCann said.

And, eventually, she hopes to never need to rely on a food bank again.

The only county in our area that falls within the top twenty counties with the most need is Black Hawk.

About fourteen and a half percent of the people in Black Hawk worry about whether they'll have enough to eat. In Johnson County, it's about thirteen and a half. In Linn, it's closer to twelve percent.

To see a complete list, visit: http://feedingamerica.org/our-network/the-studies/map-the-gap/map-executive-summary.aspx
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