Originally Published: March 15, 2016 6:01 a.m.
The beatific landscapes in Yavapai County are a draw for tourists and retirement seekers.
It is a place of diverse economic situations such that some folks are quite comfortable and never fear missing a meal. Others struggle to stretch paychecks just to survive day to day.
In Yavapai County, some 50,000 people are considered “food insecure” and statewide that number is about 2.5 million, according to statistics provided through the Yavapai Food Council headquartered in Sedona. One out of three children, one out of four adults and one out six senior citizens do not have enough food to eat, the statistics indicate.
Arizona has some 45.7 percent of its households that are considered working poor due to lost jobs and pay cuts during the recession, said Council Board Chairman Harvey Grady.
“These families have yet to recover from the recession and are living paycheck to paycheck with no savings,” Grady said. “One major life change, such as a vehicle breaking down or a major health issue, and they are unable to meet the basic needs.”
Hunger is a daily reality for far too many in Yavapai County, the numbers of these community neighbors who require emergency food services sometime during the year surpassing those of some other communities across the state, said Council Executive Director Amy Aossey.
Feeding America statistics dating back to 2013 suggest that 31 percent of Yavapai County’s “food insecure” individuals, be they the working poor, the homeless or senior citizens, are not eligible for federal programs such as food stamps. So they have no other choices but to rely on what is offered through local churches and community agencies, including area food banks.
For the third year in a row, the Yavapai Food Council has produced a comprehensive directory of emergency food service providers throughout the county, including food banks and places where people can go to get a congregate-style meal, Aossey said.
The intent of the directory is to delineate the helping resources in the community for those in need as well as for those who may wish to volunteer, provide donation or become an advocate to help end hunger in our communities, Aossey said.
The council is updating its website now, and as of next week will have the updated directory available online, Aossey said. The directory, too, has been mailed to local governments, community agencies, and is listed in the Arizona Community Foundation’s Big & Little Kids Book, a listing of community service providers for children and families in Yavapai County, she said.
The purpose of the council’s directory, and all of its efforts to eradicate hunger, can be summed in its main theme: “Everybody Eats.”