POMEROY — According to a U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty, the country is still struggling and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow.
The report indicates that research shows economic inequality, by decade, has steadily increased since 1979 and the middle three quintiles have decreased since 1967. The number of people in the bottom quintile — those who are in extreme poverty — has increased, according to the report.
The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies regarding the census findings notes that “some other economic numbers show that things are better, but acknowledged that obviously they are not, especially for those at the bottom rung.”
In an earlier report about employment and poverty in Meigs County from the Department of Jobs and Family Services, there was evidence of lingering effects of the recession. Although unemployment has dropped in the past year from double digits to 7.9 percent, wages have remained stagnant.
Locally government assistance to agencies providing food to those in need has been cut, it was noted. According to the Meigs County Council on Aging, which provides support for meals on wheels to home-bound seniors, the cuts have occurred each year for several years, including this year.
However, it was reported that fundraising programs have made up the difference in money so that most of the time all those who contact the agency and need meal assistance are being provided for.
For the past two years, the Senior Citizens Center, with grant funding, has provided food in stations around the county during the summer. While geared to schoolchildren and their nutritional needs, family members accompanying them can receive free lunches. Free lunches are also available at the Mulberry Community Center for those unable to pay.
The Meigs Local School District is also in the midst of a summer food program funded through the state in which students and their families can receive food packages. That program has been in effect for the past two years. The emphasis of the program is on providing students with nutritional food during the summer months so that they will be ready to learn when school starts next month.
Meigs Local also serves free lunches during the school year in an effort to increase the level of learning. Around the county, food pantries continue to operate, the largest of which is handled through the Meigs Cooperative Parish.
The Hunger in America’s latest report states that “children from food insecure households are likely to be behind other children in academic development.”
Locally efforts are being made to see that all children are ready to learn when they start to school next month.