A recent survey of some Lamar County residents indicates food insecurity may be on the rise.
Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) conducted a semi-annual survey at Downtown Food Pantry and learned 82.9% of respondents limit their food intake due to shortages in their home.
“Last year at this time, 64% of people said they were rationing and eating less due to not having enough food in their homes,” said food pantry executive director Allan Hubbard. “Now it’s almost 83%? That’s quite an increase and is deeply concerning to all of us who are focused on alleviating hunger in the Paris area.”
Fifty-eight percent reported skipping meals, according to RSVP director Kelly Hamill. But most frustrating was the percentage of people who reported being anxious about feeding their children: up from 49% last year to 64% this year.
“A little more than 53% said they are limiting the amount of food their children eat. That can lead to all sorts of problems in those kids’ development, not to mention the impact on the community,” Hubbard said.
The problem is not food availability through the pantry. No Lamar County resident is turned away and families receive even more pounds of groceries for their households now than in past years.
“We’re on track this year to surpass our 2018 record of giving out 2.2 million pounds of food. Families are leaving with more food than ever before,” pantry operations director Chuck Burton said.
“There are a lot of financial distractions and demands on people’s limited incomes. Perhaps that causes people to spend in ways that clamor for their attention which may not always be necessary,” Hubbard said. “I can’t tell you why these percentages are rising, but I know God can and will meet the needs of those who seek Him.”
The Christian ministry of the food pantry is to love and provide for people the way God does through Jesus Christ. One bright spot in the survey: 73% of respondents say they have less food anxiety because they go to the food pantry.
“It’s thanks to our partnership with great organizations likes RSVP that are making a difference,” the director said. “We not only have almost 50 RSVP volunteers who help us, but
these regular surveys put hard numbers on the fight against hunger right here in our town.”
Downtown Food Pantry is located one block northwest of the Lamar County Courthouse at 124 W. Cherry St. They distribute groceries every Tuesday 1:30-4:30 p.m. and Thursdays 8:30-11:30 a.m.
PHOTO: Volunteer Carlos Bodine loads a client’s vehicle at Downtown Food Pantry | Volunteers Carolyn Cotton and Ray Denmen help a client check out at Downtown Food Pantry.