"I'm retired. This is the first time I've ever had to use a food pantry. I never thought I'd have to. It's only the 15th of the month and I'm out of money and out of food. Can you help me?"
covid-19 hit newport county hard.
In fact, in the month following, we provided food to over half of the people we served in all of 2019. Many of those were clients who had never visited the Center before. This video is a glimpse at our pandemic food distribution at the MLK.
HUNGER IN NEWPORT COUNTY
We believe... everyone should have adequate healthy food.
When most visitors think of Newport County, they envision world-class sailing, summer “cottages," and beautiful beaches. Many people are surprised at the depth of poverty in Newport. In every town in Newport County, there are individuals and families who experience hunger. Newport has the fifth highest poverty rate in the state of Rhode Island; one in 8 people are unsure of where their next meal will come from. Looking at seniors, 1 in 6 seniors in the US faces the threat of hunger and up to 50% of community-dwelling seniors may be malnourished. For children, compromised nutrition has negative implications for their future physical and mental health and academic achievement. Many of our clients are families who represent the “working poor,” employed but not earning enough to keep up with rising housing, heating and food costs. Hunger is an insidious beast. It affects people all around us – the teller at your local bank, the Certified Nursing Assistant who takes care of your mother at the nursing home, the waiter who pours your coffee in the morning, the young soldier who just returned from Iraq, the senior who is living on a fixed income, the couple who are working 3 part-time jobs trying to make ends meet.
In 2019, the MLK Community Center provided 268,531 meals through our food pantry to 4,132 people living in Newport County. Our Breakfast Program is the only daily meal site in Newport County, and we served 10,923 meals to 264 people last year. While other food pantries in Rhode Island deliver pre-boxed food to homebound neighbors, the MLK Food 2 Friends program delivers food from our pantry that is chosen by our clients. All pantry and Food 2 Friends clients receive fresh produce, bread, milk, eggs, frozen meat, non-perishable food items, hygiene products, household products, and pet food.
We understand that for low-income individuals in particular, access to healthy food, nutrition education, and wellness classes can help reduce health risks such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. With a mission of moving our neighbors from hunger to health, we provide access to a Registered Dietitian for one-on-one nutrition counseling, fitness and wellness programs, budgeting and cooking classes, and collaborate with local gardens to provide locally grown produce in season.