Over 3.5 million Floridians, including more than 850,000 children, are struggling with food insecurity in 2022.
With skyrocketing inflation causing double-digit price increases for food, gas, rent and other household staples, hard-working families are struggling to make ends meet. These hardworking families are made up of your local school teachers, nurses, hospitality workers and small business owners among others who have turned to food banks like Farm Share to feed their families.
Currently, one-third of employed Florida households live below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and are considered Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed (ALICE) households. A typical family of four can no longer survive on an annual household income of $50,000 to $60,000, especially in Florida’s major metropolitan areas. In fact, the current median hourly wage in Florida is not enough to support an ALICE household’s survival budget, which considers the minimal total cost of essentials including housing, childcare, food, transportation, health care, and technology, plus taxes and a miscellaneous contingency fund. This leads to tough decision for these households on whether to buy food, pay the rent, put gas in the car or buy necessary medicines each and every month.
In 2022, the number of employed and working ALICE households (33%) will exceed the number of non-working households (13%). The ever increasing, and now rapidly escalating, cost of living is constantly chipping away at these working households ability remain financially stable, much less improve their economic standing or the future standing of their children.
This current economic inflation is also at the root of food insecurity for our hard-working Floridians. According to the US Department of Labor, food prices recently hit a 13-year record-breaking high in addition to a 29.3% increase in the cost of energy and a whopping 49.6% increase in the cost of gasoline. It is further estimated that food costs will continue to increase substantially in 2022, possibly by 20% or more, leading to additional economic strain for hard working Floridians.
Farm Share, Florida’s largest statewide independent food bank, has become the lifeline for these ALICE households, helping to put life sustaining food on their tables free of charge so that they can instead focus on paying rent, utilities, childcare and transportation expenses. Without proper nutrition these household’s health, ability to work and their children’s ability to learn will be stunted resulting in an inability to break the cycle of poverty and escape being food insecure.
Now more than ever, our hard-working Floridians need the Florida Legislature to make food insecurity a priority and continue their successful public/private partnership with Farm Share.
This legislative session, Farm Share needs the full support and funding from the Florida Legislature to ensure No Floridian Goes Hungry and No Food Goes To Waste in 2022.
Stephen Shelley is President and CEO of Farm Share, Inc.