Letter: Rapid growth brings food insecurity

Rapid growth brings food insecurity

According to the Census Bureau “as of Sept. 12, 2017, the U.S. poverty line was $26,104.” Can you imagine living on less than that, or half of that? Many of your neighbors do.

If you take the working poor, people aged 60 and older living below the federal poverty level, and the people who fall below the Elder Economic Security Standard, we have about 95 million people suffering from hunger in the United States. It’s an outrageous number, and it’s the number The Community Cafe focuses on every day.

When I was about 10 years old, we moved from a farming co-op community to the inner city. Many of our neighbors suffered from hunger. Their children never ate veggies, just mac and cheese, ham, chicken wings and McDonald’s. Not exactly a nutritional diet. I had friends who didn’t know what a zucchini was until they came to my house. It really bothered me.

Every summer, we get fresh veggies donated from Springs Farms at the cafe. I often explain what some veggies are or how to cook them. These families are getting something special in a special place. Many of the seniors who come to visit have no one else, as do the hundreds we deliver to. They may only venture out to visit us, and they quickly make friends with our volunteers and other guests.

Every week we serve at least 1,100 meals. We are expanding that number with a food truck purchase. Once we have our truck, we will venture into neighborhoods that can’t get to us.

Every day as we grow it gets harder to meet the demands. In the past few years, we’ve experienced explosive growth. We consistently make best places to live lists year over year. As a result, our rents have doubled, housing sales are booming, restaurants and food prices climb. This is great news for businesses.

What happens to the working poor and seniors? A two-income family working for minimum wage can no longer buy a home in Fort Mill. Now that family or a senior living solely on social security would be lucky to get a government subsidized apartment or government senior housing.

Every week, The Community Cafe focuses on people who worked hard all their lives to put food on their tables. As our guests struggle to put a dollar in the pot, we struggle. We are now relying almost entirely on outside donations.

Please consider giving to the cafe. Please help us stomp out hunger in your own back yard. Our neighbors need your help. Donate online at gofundme.com/freemeals.

Big or small, know what you give today helps nonprofits make it through tomorrow.

Mary Rasmussen, ways and means manager at The Community Cafe