By Rep. Julie A. Casimiro, Councilwoman Mary Brimer, and Stephen Souls

First of all, we would like to thank everyone for their kindness and generosity for helping Rhode Island’s local food pantries during the holiday season.  As always, Rhode Island’s food pantries provided thousands of meals to families, children, and seniors who were struggling to secure food during the past month.  The shelves of many local food pantries are stocked well at the moment due to the season of giving, but, these shelves will be empty soon enough.  

According to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, 11 percent of Rhode Island’s households, approximately 47,000, are unable to afford adequate food.  An even more alarming number is the 4.7 percent of households, approximately 20,398, that have very low food security, meaning these families miss meals and experience hunger.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides 43 percent of the food to these households, but monthly benefits average around only $223 per month for each household.  To make matters worse, proposals out of Washington D.C. are threatening to cut this benefit even further, which will lead to thousands of households having to rely even more upon Rhode Island’s food pantries, especially toward the end of the month when SNAP benefits have been exhausted.

It is because of these alarming statistics that we are asking you not to forget our less fortunate families, friends, and neighbors by continuing to support our food pantries throughout the year, not only with food donations, but also with very necessary financial donations.  While food donations are always crucial to food pantries’ missions, financial donations can be used even further to keep Rhode Islanders well-fed and healthy.  The RI Community Food Bank has several partnerships that allow our local food pantries to stretch a dollar farther than most could imagine, securing much more healthy and nutritious food than simple food donations would allow.

Too many children, seniors, the disabled, and even full-time working adults are going hungry each day in our state.  Our community food pantries are truly their last line of support when there is simply no more money left for food.  It is up to the rest of us to ensure that our fellow Rhode Islanders are fed and this is only possible through your continued generosity and support of our local food pantries.

Julie A. Casimiro, a Democrat, represents District 31 in the RI House of Representatives.  Mary Brimer is a councilwoman on the North Kingstown Town Council.  Stephen Souls is the Operations Manager at North Kingstown Food Pantry.

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