AUGUSTA, Ga.– In some cases, it’s not about knowing there are food banks available. But what if you can’t even get to the food because of your limitations?
At least 22 percent of Augusta’s population was already what’s called “food insecure” in more ways than one. The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened it.
At Deans Bridge Road mobile homes, Mindy Readdy knows all too well what life is like without food. Hunger leaves more than just a stomach empty, there’s been an absence of hope too.
The mom has relied on community help from food banks like Golden Harvest, where the need has tripled in the past 3 months. Like millions right now, she’s unemployed, so she must choose between bills or meals quite often.
For weeks, getting to local food drives felt nearly impossible when she couldn’t afford to put gas in the car. Lack of reliable transportation and stable housing, poverty or joblessness — all factors in the hunger crisis.
We found that 15,800 people in Augusta alone need food assistance. State data reveals 1 in 7 neighbors don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
But thanks to the community, Readdy at least has food throughout the week. But she doesn’t know about the next.
“Biggest fear is that, honestly, converting way back into times to where you have to grab a tent or something to live,” Readdy said.
It’s a renewed scary thought for the mom who faced homelessness only 2 years ago.
“We need to look at every way we can help. We need to look at guiding our federal dollars that we can use,” Marion Williams, District 9 Commissioner, said.
But that’s no quick fix. Williams says the city is working with Housing & Community Development on programs to help address the basic needs like food and affordable homes for Augusta’s under-served populations. However, it’s still only in the beginning stages with no timeline of when it can be done.
Families like Readdy’s cannot depend on future promises when they’re just trying to get through their hunger in the present.
“All you’re trying to do is live,” Readdy said.
Local government food assistance programs and economic development are funded through federal dollars, but that is supplied based on census numbers. So the data must accurately represent the local needs, and city leaders are asking every person to complete their census.