What is considered a better-than-average economy, apparently isn’t benefiting everyone equally.
Certainly not if you look at the numbers of those getting assistance from food pantries, the use of which continues to soar in communities served by the Hunger Task Force in La Crosse, according to executive director Shelly Fortner.
And, it’s not like the people getting food don’t have jobs.
“The majority of people who go to food pantries on a regular basis, they are working,” Fortner said. “So, that tells me they’re not making enough. They have other expenses, like maybe child care, medical bills — things like that. They’re just not making it.”
While Fortner agrees that there are plenty of jobs available, low wages make food scarcity in the area painfully common.
“Minimum wage hasn’t been raised in 15 years but tell me if the grocery prices have stayed the same,” Fortner said.
The Hunger Task Force report for 2017 counted over 64,000 people served in a six-county area around La Crosse.
“What we have to do as a community is try and do the best we can to help,” Fortner said.
A recent study found more than 40 percent of the households in La Crosse County are teetering on the edge of financial insecurity, and 11 percent live in poverty.