Poverty line doesn't begin to cover those who need help

August 13, 2012

Thank you to Dan Rodricks for his recent column "Our official national lie" (Aug. 8), which highlighted the discrepancy between the federal poverty line and what real families can actually afford. A recent study by Feeding America, the nation's largest anti-hunger organization, found that fully 47 percent of the 740,240 Marylanders who are food-insecure do not qualify for any government assistance programs. They make too much for SNAP, WIC or the Free and Reduced-Price meal program at school, which have eligibilities ranging from 100 percent to 200 percent of the poverty line, but they have too little to make ends meet. Families like this have nowhere to turn but the Maryland Food Bank and our network of 600 soup kitchens, pantries and shelters across the state.

It is, unfortunately, a growing trend and one that has led our distribution to double in just four years, reaching an all-time high of 26 million pounds (nearly 21 million meals) in fiscal 2012. Still, we estimate that 96 million more meals are needed, above and beyond what we and all other assistance programs are currently providing to end hunger in Maryland. The Maryland Food Bank and other anti-hunger organizations are striving to bridge the gap, but in the meantime it is a sad reality for many families amid a frustrating political landscape. I am hopeful that columns like Mr. Rodricks' will keep this issue in the public eye and inspire others to be a voice for the hungry.

Deborah Flateman, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Maryland Food Bank.

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