CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Requests for emergency food assistance increased eight percent over the past year in Charleston, according to a recent report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"We're seeing a lot of folks in our senior community that are choosing between purchasing their food, purchasing their medicine and paying bills,"
Miriam Langley, VP of Development and Communications of Lowcountry Food Bank, said. "We also see low wages and housing costs for families just making difficult choices."
According to the 2015 report released last week, 66 percent of the 22-survey cities showed an increase in the number of requests for emergency food assistance since 2014.
In Charleston, 69 percent of those requesting food assistance are families; 31 percent are employed and 19 percent are elderly.
"We see a lot of folks that simply can't get through their month," Langley said, adding surprise budget changes such as home and car repairs often trigger a need for food assistance.
Reported causes include low wages, high housing costs and poverty.
To date, the Lowcountry Food Bank has already distributed more than 25 million pounds of food.
"When we do have increases in need, which we do continue to see pretty much every year, we're able to respond to that," Langley said.
But the food bank said awareness is as important as donations.
"Hunger does not discriminate, the face of hunger will surprise you," Langley said. "I think we have a lot of need during the holidays, we also have a lot of need during the summer months. So we have a lot to kick off 2016, but educating everyone is key to know the need during other months throughout the year."