(KSLA) - A new study delivers a sobering message: 2 in every 5 American families have struggled to pay for basic needs like food and housing in the past year.
That’s according to research from the Urban Institute.
Behind those numbers are real people who face real challenges to make ends meet.
The Food Pantry at Noel Memorial United Methodist Church in Shreveport is the largest in Northwest Louisiana, giving out 10,000 bags of food every year.
Pantry Director Susan Foster said she can tell there’s a difference in the need for food.
“I think more people are getting off of food stamps. I think more people are getting jobs.
"But for those who are not, I think it’s a little bit more desperate. So our numbers are rising again. People who just are not making it. Single moms is a big one.”
Gloria Owens counts herself among those who struggle.
“Especially myself. I just lost my husband, and so what I was getting from him I don’t get anymore,” the 69-year-old explained.
Owens said her Social Security check barely covers most of her expenses.
“And I have a hard time paying my bills, my car note, my utilities. And so the pantry helps out a lot.”
As for why more Americans are having a hard time making ends meet, researchers point to one factor in particular - wages.
Pay simply is not keeping up with family expenses.
Meanwhile, Owens said, she and a growing number of people in Shreveport-Bossier City would be in a difficult position if anything happened to Noel’s pantry or similar agencies.
“Well, I would have to survive on what God provided. But God is good.”
The Food Pantry’s Foster said 90 percent of the food they give out comes from the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana.
And she noted that the church’s pantry at 520 Herndon St. is open more than any other pantry - from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday through Thursday.