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6/21/2023 Op-Ed: Families and food banks need vital support to keep Rhode Islanders properly fed
By Rep. Julie A. Casimiro

In March, additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that were instituted due to the COVID-19 pandemic ended.  And when combining the end of these benefits with the rapidly rising costs of food and daily necessities, the situation leaves many of our state’s families facing serious food insecurity while our food banks and pantries are stretched to their limits.

The last time I wrote about this dire issue was in November and I am sad to say that the situation has now only gotten worse. 

In November, I detailed how food prices in Rhode Island had increased 13 percent and that food insecurity is now three times higher than it was before the pandemic.  During this time, the RI Community Food Bank and its partner agencies throughout the state saw an increase of 10,000 residents a month looking for food assistance. In 2022, 41 percent of families with children were going to bed hungry at night. 

The scary and tragic fact is, these numbers have probably only gotten worse over the past seven months.

Inflation is affecting us all, but it is particularly devastating to our low-income residents and families.  While some of us are fortunate enough to be able to absorb these rising prices at the grocery store, although that number of individuals is shrinking by the day, for too many of our fellow Rhode Islanders, each cent counts and an increase of even a few pennies can mean less food for themselves and their families.

Thankfully, the General Assembly recognized this serious problem and allocated over $3 million more than was proposed by the governor to the RI Community Food Bank in this year’s state budget to assist households in need, especially those that received enhanced nutrition benefits during the pandemic.  This vital money will go a long way in feeding struggling Rhode Islanders but it will not solve the increasingly growing issue of hunger and food insecurity in our state, either.  Simply put, we need everyone’s help to ensure that all Rhode Islanders are properly fed each and every day.

I implore you all to reach out to the RI Community Food Bank or your local food pantry to find out how you can help.  Whether it’s with monetary or food donations or simply volunteering your time, they can use all the assistance they can get to address the serious problem of hunger in Rhode Island.

I ask you to find it in your hearts to recognize that so many of our friends, neighbors and relatives desperately need your help by supporting the RI Community Food Bank and your local food pantries.

Rep. Julie A. Casimiro, a Democrat, represents District 31 in North Kingstown and Exeter.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903