Roots of Hunger: The Working Poorby Montgomery Area Food Bank on 11/08/13
It may surprise you to know that of the hundreds of thousands of families across Alabama served by the Montgomery Area Food Bank and our network of partners, we primarily serve low-pay workers and their families. These families live at or below 130% of the poverty line and face many obstacles on the road to self-sufficiency.
One of the largest obstacles is the ongoing recession and its impact on employment in Alabama. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012, 9.8% of Alabamians were unemployed. On top of that, 16.2% of all Alabamians were considered “underemployed,” meaning that they are working part time jobs when they want to be working full time or perhaps they are working full time jobs that they are overqualified for and thus earning less than their potential.
Compounding this problem is the phenomenon of the single-parent household. Based on the 2010 Census, Alabama ranks 46th in the nation for single-parent households; in fact, around 40% of all households in Alabama are led by single-parents. For these families, the problem is even more complex because basic daycare expenses can take up to 50% of a family’s income.
At Montgomery Area Food Bank, we are constantly searching for ways to build bridges between a family’s income and their needs. Providing food assistance lies at the core of our mission; when we feed families, we enable them to focus their budget on things like school supplies, rent and utilities. But we do much more than this – every day we work with hundreds of Partner Agencies who, in addition to distributing food from us to local communities, often offer job training, placement, and other services designed to give a hand up, not a hand out.