For 31 years, the Food Bank has been indisputably effective, but the need for emergency food assistance in West Michigan remains high.
Nationally, the latest figures show that at least 14.6% of households faced some degree of food insecurity (i.e., lack of access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life). Households with children under 18 are even more likely to be food-insecure.
In West Michigan, where the unemployment rate is higher than the national average, the lack of access to food is an even bigger problem. In much of our 40-county service area, particularly its northern counties, unemployment runs 12% or higher.
But even in seemingly prosperous areas, many families forego food to pay mortgages, utilities and medical bills. In fact:
-46% of clients served by our Food Bank have had to choose between food and paying utility bills,
-37% have had to choose between buying food and paying their rent or mortgage,
-30% have had to choose between food and medicine or medical care,
-33% have had to choose between food and transportation, and
-42% have had to choose between food and putting gas in their cars.
Among these households, 40% of the individuals are children under 18, about 8% are under age 5 and another 8% are elderly. Almost a third (31%) report having at least one household member in poor health.