About one in six households in Ohio struggle to afford enough food, according to a new report by the Food Research & Action Center.
Despite an improving economy, 16.2 percent of households across the state said putting enough food on the table was a problem in 2016 and 2017.
After several years of decline, the food hardship rate for all households increased from 15.1 percent in 2016 to 15.7 percent in 2017, the report found.
The food hardship rate for households with children is 1.3 times higher than for households without children.
• Ohio was ranked the 18th worst state in the nation for food hardship.
• The food hardship rate in Ohio is considerably higher in households with children than households without children: 19.5 percent compared to 14.6 percent, respectively.
• The Cleveland-Elyria region (which includes Lorain County) had a 20.2 percent hardship rate for households with children and 13.7 percent rating for households without children. Only Dayton and Youngstown-Warren-Boardman were worse.
“Food hardship affects people in every community in Ohio, although it often goes unseen by those not looking for it,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “Hunger can hide behind doors of nice houses with mortgages in default, or the heat turned off, or all of the income going to housing costs, leaving little or no money for food. Sometimes it hides behind the stoic faces of parents who skip meals to protect their children from hunger.”
Recent policy changes including the expansion of Medicaid seem to have had some positive impacts on food security and food hardship rates in households without children in Ohio, she said.
“As we continue to climb out of the Great Recession, we cannot afford setbacks from harmful proposals at the federal level that would cut, severely restrict or eliminate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for some of our most vulnerable citizens,” she said, urging Congress to focus on protecting assistance for families in need.