The new hungry: College-educated, middle-class cope with food insecurity

Rolanda McCarty, who was laid off and once earned $38,000 a year, relies on a food bank to feed her daughter

“Six years ago, when I started working here, I saw the cliche. There were people entrenched in poverty,” said Ross Fraser, spokesman for the nonprofit Feeding America. “Well, that’s changing. You have more and more people who have college degrees, who have become unemployed or underemployed.”

The new hungry: Educated and middle class

“It was weird,” said Block, who in better economic times often donated canned goods or volunteered at homeless shelters. “Here I was standing on 116th Street in Harlem with a shopping cart and reading the Sunday Times.”

Block said she found small ways to lessen the harsh reality that her family must depend on free food. Sometimes, she stuffs the generic cereal into brand-name boxes so her son won’t notice.

In Los Angeles, a teacher who lost an after-school coaching job because of school budget cuts found the pay reduction was too much. He turned to a food pantry to support his children, Fraser said.

A working professional in New York, who lost his job earlier this year, believed his eight months of emergency funds would be sufficient until he found a job. When his funds dwindled faster than expected, he sought handouts at a food bank, a food bank worker said.

Feeding America said 36 percent of the people who get food from its soup kitchens and pantries have at least one employed person in their household. While rural and urban areas continue to require the most assistance, several food bank workers say the need in suburban areas has risen more quickly.

“The recession may technically be over according to the economists, but the people who run our food pantry soup kitchens or shelters, they aren’t seeing it or feeling it,” said Stacy Wong, a spokeswoman at The Greater Boston Food Bank. Wong said the agency has served 545,200 people in 2010. In 2006, it served 417,950 people.




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