A new study shows 1 in 5 American children are living in poverty. It’s been a rising concern for nearly a decade and 38 states are seeing an increase.
In Fresno, the statistics are worse than the national average. A West Fresno pastor walked us down the streets on one of the county's most impoverished areas. He spoke as he walked. “Hungry poor families, here people don't know if they'll make it one day to the next,” says Pastor Bruce Hood of Feed the Sheep ministries. He sees the struggles firsthand. “Our goal is to help meet the need of the people here.”
In this West Fresno neighborhood, families know what it’s like go without necessities. Of those who live here, 90% live on a fixed income making it hard to provide. “Things are going up so high in stores sometimes we can buy it and sometimes we have to pass it on by,” says Stephanie Jackson, a neighbor and member of Feed the Sheep Ministries. Jackson is one of the 250 families that line up outside the church every Friday night. The church says the number of those in need is still growing. “It is a great increase, we are looking for more places to get food,” says Dewayne Stewart a Minister at Feed the Sheep.
The struggle is not just in West Fresno, it’s nationwide. Nationally, 1 in 5 American children live in poverty. In Fresno, the numbers are the highest in the nation. Food hardship stands at 27.2%, of that percentage 11,000 are children in need. “It’s the job situation and economy. There was a lot of help that was once proved but because of the economy it’s not there anymore,” says Pastor Hood.
Those in need say the hardest struggle of all is finding the courage to ask for help. “You don't want people to know you’re without needs but you have to because you have children. It’s the main thing were looking at our family to better their lives,” says a West Fresno neighbor.
The Community Food Bank and Feed the Sheep ministry work together to fight hunger. The Food Bank feeds over 90,000 people across Fresno each year. It’s seeing more families with children and says this year’s total summer numbers are some of the highest they’ve seen.
The future outlook on the situation is grim. Census data predicts childhood poverty to rise to 24% nationwide. It expects the high number stay through 2021.
Christina Lusby Reporting.