A Look at the Need for Food in Lake County

Man smiles while sitting in his car with his dog

Data on the Need in Lake County

Here at the food bank, we gather data on communities in our service area to best understand why there is a need for food and which living factors impact that need. By looking at that information, we see the need for food is higher in Lake County than anywhere else in our service area.

In Lake County, 17.9% of people are food insecure. The child food insecurity rate is even higher at 23%. This is the highest rate for any county in our entire 40-county service area, which shows that hunger is a prevalent issue and our hunger-relief services are needed.

In order to understand why this might be, we can look at some data on the demographics of this area.

In Lake County, 19.2% of the population is living in poverty. Additionally, 37% of the population lives in ALICE households. ALICE stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained and Employed, which means households earn too much to qualify for government assistance, but not enough to cover the cost of living in their county. This means whether living in poverty or in an ALICE household, 57% of Lake County residents are in need of assistance, which is the highest in our service area. For comparison, this same combined rate is 36% in Kent County.

Continually, labor force participation is low in Lake County, and income is even lower. Significant percentages of the population in this area are seniors and people with disabilities, which means many are not working. Also, a disproportionate amount of those neighbors are living on a fixed income, which means they don’t always have the flexibility to be able to afford all of their living needs. To learn more about economic security for seniors, check out the National Council on Aging and the Elder Index.

How St. Ann’s Lake County Senior Services Provides for Seniors in Need

St. Ann’s Lake County Senior Services runs a Mobile Food Pantry in this high-need area and they intentionally give food to seniors.

Man holding up food he got from a Mobile Food Pantry

One neighbor, Sam, has been coming to receive food for over a year. He takes care of his elderly father at home, which means he needs food for his dad as well as for himself and his wife.

“It helps as a food source instead of having to go out and buy it all the time without having the funds.”

Their family enjoys the fresh vegetables they get from the Mobile Pantries, and Sam was especially excited for the bison meat he picked up this most recent visit. He also loves canning which helps make the food last longer.

Man smiles while sitting in his car

Another senior at the Mobile Pantry was James, and he came with one of his neighbors. They are both retired and living on Social Security. All of the neighbors in their area are retired, so they often carpool to attend Mobile Pantries.

“We appreciate that [Mobile Pantries] are a service offered to the community. There’s a variety from week to week, which is good. You give some of the more costly staples and those are always beneficial.”

In addition to carpooling, another benefit of having their group of neighbors in similar situations is that they can share food.

“It’s all used. Nothing gets wasted.”

Stories like Sam’s and James’ show how charitable food plays an important role in the lives of so many, especially in Lake County. Thanks to the support from organizations like the Lake County Community Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, Kraft Heinz Company Foundation and Gun Lake Casino, we are able to serve neighbors where the need for food is highest.