New figures gathered by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) show food assistance needs in Washington remain high, with 1 in 5 residents visiting a food pantry at least once during this past year.
Between June 2012 and June 2013, there were more than 8.35 million visits to food pantries across the state. This was a slight drop of 115,000 from the previous year, indicating that there were fewer new clients visiting a food pantry for the first time. Families already relying on food pantries, however, were going more often and needed more food, according to the figures collected by WSDA’s Food Assistance Program.
Food pantry staff will be under pressure during the holidays to fill the growing need of many families experiencing hunger.
“Food banks and other assistance programs are always stretched thin this time of the year as we approach the holidays,” said WSDA Director Bud Hover. “Our partnerships with emergency food providers, farmers, and ranchers help contribute to food security, but every donation counts, including cash donations that can give food pantries the flexibility to buy healthy food options.”
WSDA’s Food Assistance Program uses state and federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide food and money to more than 500 food bank distribution centers, food pantries, meal programs and tribal voucher programs. Some key facts about feeding the hungry this past year:
- 132.3 million pounds of food was distributed to clients, slightly lower than the previous year’s record of 132.7 million pounds;
- Each person received an average of 15.84 pounds of food with each visit, a slight increase from the previous year;
- On average, clients visited their local food pantry six times in the past year, slightly above the previous fiscal year.
Those who would like to help can donate to their local food bank or food pantry or contact the WSDA Food Assistance Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 725-5657 to get more information.
WSDA’s Food Assistance Programs assist local organizations and tribes in providing emergency food to low-income people throughout Washington state. The program provides approximately $20 million worth of state and federal food and funding to support 500 food banks, food pantries, meal programs and tribes.