Food Insecurity is Real
by Teresa Jackson on July 24th, 2020

Food insecurity is real. Even before the pandemic changed our lives and increased the need for food pantries, many families struggled to put adequate nutritious food on the table. You may think food insecurity only happens to the lowest income households in our country; sadly, that is not true. Many median income families also struggle with hunger. I want to show you how that can happen. Dan and Susie are hard working parents of a toddler and an infant. Dan, a high school graduate, works for a local package delivery company 40 hours per week and earns $15.00 per hour, or $31,200 annually. Susie has an associate’s degree and works as an instructional aide at the local middle school. Susie wants to return to school so she can become a teacher. Currently, she earns $15.00 per hour, or $31,200 annually.
The family’s combined income, after taxes, is $60,840.  Their monthly budget looks like this:

Health Insurance: $ 1,100.00
Child Care: $ 1,600.00
Rent: $ 1,200.00
Renter’s Insurance: $   10.00
Auto(s): $  700.00
Auto Insurance: $  300.00
Gasoline: $  200.00
Electricity: $  150.00
Water: $  100.00
Phone: $   80.00
Internet: $   50.00
Savings: $   25.00                  
Miscellaneous* $  200.00
$ 5,715.00 or $68,580 per year
*Miscellaneous includes clothing, school supplies & fees for field trips etc., doctor’s visits, diapers, toiletries, cleaning products. Note that there is nothing left for groceries.)

Total income after taxes: $54,400. Total expenses: $68,580

Dan and Susie are $14,180 in the hole before they make even one trip to the grocery store!

These are realistic figures for Dallas County. The rent is for a 2-bedroom apartment. The auto loans cover two used, but decent, vehicles. The auto insurance doesn’t take into account that either driver may have an accident or ticket on their record and that both adults are over 25. Utilities can vary from season to season based on weather and temperature. Internet is a necessity in 2020. So is a cell phone. These items are basic utilities that every employer expects their employee to have. This budget does not include a landline or cable. Sharing Life counsels all clients to have an emergency savings account of at least $500. This account is often the difference between a payday loan that can lead a family down the path to homelessness or surviving an everyday emergency unscathed. Everyday emergencies include new tires, brakes, or other maintenance for the vehicles, unpaid time off work due to being sick or caring for a sick child. There are a million little things that can send a family down the path to financial ruin. Things most of us take for granted like co-pays, medication costs, or co-insurance after the insurance has paid their part. None of these costs are included in the budget above. Also note that this family has no debt. No credit cards or loans to pay. The figure stated for health insurance is just the portion the family pays toward their policies. Their employers pay a portion of the premiums for the adults. According to numerous sites I visited to do research on this subject, the average cost of health insurance for a family of four in America is $25,000 per year.

Let’s talk about child care. Are you surprised that Dan and Susie are spending $1600 per month on day care? According to Child Care Aware, that is really a bargain! The average cost of center-based daycare in the USA is $11,896 per year ($991 monthly) for infants and $10,158 per year ($847 monthly) for toddlers.

What surprises you most? What should they cut? Health insurance? Child care? A vehicle and auto insurance? What if they live in a community with little or no public transportation?

I hope you see how challenging it can be for families who are working hard and still aren’t earning enough to make ends meet. They aren’t lazy or squandering resources. They must have help to make it day to day.  

That is where Sharing Life comes in. We help people who are struggling to eat well. We offer meat, milk, eggs, cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, cereal, and other shelf stable items families need to eat well balanced diets. We also assist families in need with rent, mortgage payments, and utility assistance for electric, gas, and water bills. We offer work force development, employment services, and financial coaching. Our special programs provide school supplies and gifts at Christmas.  

There is just no money in the budget for these items for Dan and Susie. I often remark that the gifts given by our generous donors inspire hope in the lives of the people we serve. Can you see why? When Susie comes to Sharing Life to get food twice a month, sometimes we also have diapers. When Dan has three more days to go and the tank is on empty, Sharing Life can provide a gas gift card so he can go to work until payday. Yes, we fill tanks at Sharing Life. Gas tanks, hungry stomachs, backpacks, and basic monthly bills marked paid. Through this people see Jesus and feel hope. Thank you for giving so generously, again and again. Dan and Susie and their two babies thank you. And so do I.  

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Hebrews 13:16

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