Bare shelves at local food pantries - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Bare shelves at local food pantries

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A heart-breaking one in six Americans are now living in poverty. That is the highest number in nearly 20 years.

Georgia is ranked  third in the nation with 19% of people in the state fighting poverty.  Alabama is tenth at 17%. 

These numbers are leaving many local shelters and food pantries struggling with the high demands.

Harry Redman has been a commercial fisherman and worked in construction, but for the first time, he is sleeping in a homeless shelter.

"To find work is hard.  It's a struggle every day," said Redman.

He and his family just moved to Columbus, but he has been out of work for two and a half years. His wife and daughter are staying at another shelter in town for women and children. 

"I have a two year old little girl and not knowing where she was going to sleep at.  This was our last hope."

The latest U.S. Census numbers show Redman is not alone with one in six Americans and more than one in five children nationwide, like his little daughter Kiera, living in poverty.

While the beds at Valley Rescue Mission in Columbus are full,  Joshua McQuien says the shelves in their food pantry are bare.

"Our biggest needs are canned meats, canned fruit, noodles, peanut butter and jelly, and breakfast foods like grits, oatmeal, and rice."

McQuien says in July, they saw about 400 people coming to their food pantry, and in August, that number doubled to 800.

"They're here because of job loss, they have an illness in the family, or they have to focus on some bills, but they can't pay other bills.  Unfortunately, a lot of them afford the food."

Redman encourages the community to reach out and help because living in poverty is not just a statistic for some it is reality.

"[Some people] are trying to survive, trying to do the best they can to raise a family you know and raise them right," said Redman.

If you would like to donate, you can visit their website at: http://www.valleyrescuemission.net/index.html or call them at (706) 322-8267.

McQuien says you can drop off your donations at the Valley Rescue Mission or they will come pick them up for you. 

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