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A food bank report says food insecurity is now three times more common than before the pandemic.

PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — There are more households in Rhode Island who cannot afford adequate food now than before the pandemic, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank said Monday.

The food bank released its annual famine report to coincide with Thanksgiving week.

A food bank report says food insecurity is now three times more common than it was before the pandemic, with 31% of Rhode Island households surveyed earlier this year saying they couldn’t afford adequate food, up from 18.4% in 2021 ., 25.2% in 2020 and 9.1% from 2017 to 2019.

Food bank president Andrew Schiff said that while Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is low and people are working, the problem is that many workers’ wages are not keeping up with the effects of inflation and the high cost of living.

Food prices in Rhode Island have risen 13% over the past year, and families are facing higher heating oil bills this winter, Schiff said. He added that the risk of hunger is greatest in low-income families with children and in communities of color.

The food bank also said the need for food assistance is increasing as critical pandemic relief programs and emergency benefits end. The food pantries, which are part of a nationwide food bank network, currently serve around 63,000 residents a month, about 10,000 more people a month than in 2021.

US Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said the report is a stark reminder that the end of pandemic relief programs coupled with higher grocery prices are affecting many families’ ability to purchase healthy food. He added that there are simply too many hungry families in Rhode Island and across the country.

The food bank wants the governor to use state funds to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students at the school. Schiff said it was vital that Congress reinstate the expanded child tax credit and increase the benefits of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

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