A reporter for the Muncie Star Press, Ivy Farguheson details what is happening in the state of Indiana.
"If you talk to anybody that runs a food pantry, they will tell you that the demand this year has almost doubled, if not more, than this time last year," says Major Douglas Rick of The Salvation Army of Delaware County. "A lot of people were just making it last year, just getting by. This year, if they didn't come into the food pantry, they wouldn't be making it at all."
On a statewide level, 28 percent of Indiana's working families, or more than one in four, earned less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the most recent Working Poor Families Project report, released in late October. That threshold was $41,228 in 2006.
That number of families was an increase of 2 percent, or 17,000 families, from a 2004 study.
And there's more bad news: the number of working families considered low income likely will grow during the current economic downturn.
"We're seeing working class people that try to work and try to make a home for themselves and pay their bills, but they can't make it with the cost of everything going up," said Kay Walker, the Center Township Trustee. "It's growing every day."
Local non-profits can offer anecdotal evidence of the change. Many of the people seeking help from their pantries are new, including some who might have donated to the pantries just last year.
"There are just more people who aren't able to make it on their limited incomes. The working poor ... times are more challenging for them," said Becki Clock of Christian Ministries. "They're just getting behind and then further behind and then further behind."
It doesn't help that 25 percent of the state's jobs are in occupations that generate an income below the federal poverty level for a family of four. Indiana ranks 25th in the nation for the percentage of low-income working families, a drop of five places in the national ranking since the 2004 report.