opinion Newport Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s 2022 Status Report on Hunger in Rhode Island is out and the results are cause for serious alarm and concern.  The fact that one in three Rhode Island households cannot afford an adequate amount of food is a true wake-up call to the fact that too many of our families and residents are falling behind in the current economic climate and that they need our need help.

Inflation is affecting us all, but it is particularly devastating to our low-income residents and families.  While some of us are fortunate enough to probably not even notice the rising prices at the grocery store, for too many of our fellow Rhode Islanders, each cent counts and an increase of even a few pennies can mean less food for themselves and their families.  Over the past year, food prices in Rhode Island have increased 13 percent while home heating prices have risen 43 percent.  In fact, food insecurity is now three times higher than it was before the pandemic.

With critical pandemic-related relief programs and emergency benefits ending, such as school meals for all and extra WIC and SNAP benefits, the need for food assistance is increasing at rapid levels.  The RI Community Food Bank and its partner agencies throughout the state over the past year have seen an increase of 10,000 residents a month looking for food assistance.

Even more heartbreaking is the prevalence of food insecurity in households with children.  In 2021, food insecurity affected 25 percent of Rhode Island families.  Now, in 2022, 41 percent of families with children are going to bed hungry at night.  This is tragic and unacceptable.

Too many of us are struggling and hungry and this is becoming an all-hands-on-deck situation.

As we enter the holiday season, I implore everyone to reach out to the RI Community Food Bank or your local food pantry to find out how you can help.  Whether it’s with monetary or food donations or simply volunteering your time, they can use all the assistance they can get to address the serious problem of hunger in our state.

During the season of giving this year, I ask you to find it in your hearts to recognize that so many of our friends, neighbors, and relatives desperately need your help by supporting the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and your local food pantries.

Everyone should experience a holiday season with full bellies and full hearts and this will only be possible for all Rhode Islanders with your help.

Rep. Julie A. Casimiro, a Democrat, represents District 31 in North Kingstown and Exeter.