Action News

Hunger crisis on the rise in area suburbs

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By MATT O'DONNELL

It's that time of year when 6ABC partners in the region's largest food drive and this year's need is greater than ever.

Philabundance estimates more than 900,000 people in our region don't earn enough money to buy food for their families.

The need has spread beyond traditionally poor urban areas and is impacting more people in the suburbs, including people like Annette Grant of Delaware County.

Grant emigrated from Jamaica in 1998 in search of the American dream.

She went to school and became a nurse, bought a house in the suburbs and sent her daughters to college but then the recession hit.

"People back home they have this preconception like in American we fulfill our needs and then we should send this to them. Sometimes you try to tell them this is what's happening," said Grant.

Unable to find full-time work, Grant takes as many shifts as she can. Some weeks, it's more than 40 hours and other weeks, maybe half that.

"You can't make plans. This fortnight I have $1500 but the next fortnight I might have $400 dollars. How do you factor that in?" she said.

Though Grant works in health care, she has no health insurance and can rarely afford the insulin she needs to control her diabetes.

"I just don't take it," Grant said.

For help with food, Grant visits a Philabundance pantry twice a week.

"We're bringing in now close to 300 people a day," said Tracy Heisler a Philabundance volunteer.

Heisler volunteers in North Philadelphia and says hunger has increased across the board.

"There are working people, there are people with children, there are retired people and there are other people who come in very well-dressed," said Heisler.

While need is greatest in the city, it's growing in the suburbs. In Delaware County, where Grant lives, approximately 1 in 10 people now worry about their next meal.

"You do what you have to do to survive. It's right now a survival game," said Grant.

If you'd like to help in the fight against hunger, the Boy Scouts are going door-to-door, this Saturday, collecting canned food donations.

For other ways to donate this holiday season, visit 6abc/Dunkin' Donuts Holiday Food Drive.