Updated: Jan 12
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Food insecurity is all around us; more than likely most of us know someone who doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. In fact, 1 in 7 people in West Virginia struggle with hunger, and 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger (Feeding America, 2018). Federal food security programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), National School Lunch Program, National School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Food Program, and WIC are dependent on the 2020 census count to receive adequate funding. An accurate count can help reach West Virginians who need these programs to know where their next meal is coming from. All of our West Virginians have the right to eat.
With an aging population in West Virginia, there are many low-income seniors receiving set incomes far less than adequate to provide for their basic needs. Imagine trying to live independently at the age of 77 with a set income of $56 dollars from social security, unable to work more than a few days a week at your local retail store. You have worked your whole life, providing for yourself until health issues forced you to quit your full-time job. The little bit you can work, combined with your social security income keeps the lights and water on in your home, pays for insurance for your car to drive to work and buys the gas but provides no extra money.
Although we know that SNAP is just the very beginning of what a just food system should look like, without programs like SNAP, many of these seniors will have to choose between having gas, having water, or having food. After working their whole life seniors are struggling to make ends meet when the paychecks stop coming and their health prevents them working. Many of the households that receive SNAP in West Virginia houses someone who is disabled or elderly. These populations need food security programs along with the children here in our state.
SNAP is not only beneficial to families and seniors but also our rural stores who accept these government funded programs. SNAP generates revenue for the rural retail and grocery stores that are crucial to the food deserts in West Virginia. Although these stores generally don’t provide healthy and fresh options, without them many people would have to drive over 50 miles to their nearest grocer. Families and seniors already struggling to buy food would then be faced with loosing local jobs and finding extra money for gas.
Making sure you and everyone around you gets counted in April is crucial. West Virginia loses funding for every person that is not counted including children and seniors, both of whom are known to be hard to count. To learn more about who gets counted and why the census is important to West Virginia you can reach out to any of Our Children Our Future’s Team Members or go to Census.gov. Get counted and help feed West Virginia!
Northern West Virginia Organizer, Amy Jo Hutchinson- firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastern West Virginia Organizer, Justin Raines- email@example.com
Southern West Virginia Organizer, Carey Jo Grace- firstname.lastname@example.org