Released May 11, 2004


Annual Ohio Hunger Report Profiles Those Seeking Emergency Food

Households served increasing; working poor and elderly seek hunger relief


Columbus, OH – An annual hunger survey finds the number of households served by Ohio’s emergency food assistance network is increasingly dramatically – from 2,127,325 in 2002 to 2,703,684 in 2003, which represents an increase of 27 percent (duplicated count). The findings are part of the 6th annual No Name, Please! Survey, conducted by Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF), Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger.


Among the survey’s highlights:


·     97 percent of the households surveyed reported income below the federal poverty level, of these households, 63 percent lived in extreme poverty, reporting incomes of less then half of the federal poverty level;

·     More than half of the adults living in surveyed households were not working;

·     Almost one-fourth of respondents indicated they had lost their job or been laid off in the past year; and

·     Six out of 10 respondents reported receiving food stamps – a 25 percent increase over 2002 results – and the largest ever increase in any one area of public benefits participation.


“This study offers a snapshot of the families and individuals who access emergency food in Ohio,” said Lisa Hamler-Podolski, executive director of OASHF. “The No Name, Please! Survey attempts to illustrate the depth and add real voices to current research on the impact of welfare reform, hunger, and poverty in Ohio.”   


A total of 97 percent of the households surveyed reported income below the federal poverty level, which is $15,260 per year for a family of three according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2003 Federal Poverty Guidelines. The average annual household income of those responding to the survey was $8,557.32, which is an increase from $7,858.82 in 2002.


In 2003, women completed 75 percent of the No Name, Please! Surveys. Of responding households, 43 percent of the members were under the age of eighteen and eight percent are sixty or older. The 2003 survey continues to find households combining their resources with the addition of grandchildren, relatives, in-laws, and friends who have hit hard times. 


Employment Status

The study found the employment picture for many of these households has created an increasing need for food from working poor, the elderly, retired and disabled households. Of the 13,192 adults age 18 or older living in the households surveyed, 26 percent are disabled and 7 percent are retired.  In addition:

·     42 percent of the households surveyed reported that they or another adult in their household were working in some capacity – either fulltime, part-time or sometimes, yet they had to depend of the local food pantry to feed themselves and their children.

·     58 percent of able-bodied adults living in the households were not working.

·     22 percent of respondents to open ended questions indicated that they had lost their job or had been laid off in the past year and 35 percent indicated they needed a full-time job in order not to need pantry services. 


Households Receiving Public Assistance

Despite low household incomes, 2003 participation in state and federal assistance programs remained low. These households, based on income alone, appear to be categorically eligible to receive Food Stamps, Medicaid, child care assistance, and child and adult nutrition services.  The study found:

·     61 percent reported receiving Food Stamps, compared to 36 percent in 2002, which is the largest ever increase in any one area of benefits since the No Name, Please! Survey began six years ago.

·     53 percent reported receiving Medicaid, compared to 38 percent in 2002.

·     16 percent reported receiving Welfare or Ohio Works First, an increase from 9 percent in 2002.

·     In addition, six percent of the households reported they had lost cash assistance due to the three-year welfare time limits, down from 17 percent in 2002.


Education Level of Respondent Households

The findings indicate that lack of education is the greatest barrier to employment for those accessing the emergency food network.  37 percent of the survey respondents reported they had not graduated from high school and 9 percent reported having only a GED.


What Respondents Would Do Without Emergency Food

The responses to the open-ended survey question regarding what the respondent would do if the pantry were not available to help them and their family:


“The results provide important information about who is hungry, why they are hungry, what they need to help stabilize their lives, and what they would do if a food pantry weren’t here to help them,” Hamler-Podolski said. “The findings clearly illustrate the importance of continuing to increase distribution of food and groceries to our member charities and ensuring the ongoing support and involvement of our community leaders and elected officials.”


The No Name, Please! Survey provides profiles of 8,120 households representing 23,533 individuals who accessed the largest food pantries in 83 Ohio counties during a four-week period between in July and September 2003. The survey results were released as part of the partnerships and legislative awards luncheon during the 5th annual Education & Leadership Conference, Finding Your Link. More than 400 foodbank, food pantry, soup kitchen and emergency service providers from across the state attended the conference in Columbus May 10 - 11, 2004. 


Contact: Lisa Hamler-Podolski at 614/221-4336 office or 614/271-4803 cell.


OASHF is Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, responsible for representing 12 certified America’s Second Harvest Foodbanks and distributing food and grocery items to more than 3,000 member charities in all 88 Ohio counties. Member agencies include food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other non-profit emergency food assistance programs that supplied 83.4 million pounds of food during 2003. 


2003 Hunger in Ohio Power Point Presentation


2003 Hunger in Ohio Report (To view this document you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader.)


The Faces of Hunger in Ohio, an executive summary


© 2004. No part may be reproduced without expressed written permission from the

Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.