Lynchburg Hunger Poverty Food
This problem is very real in our community. Follow the link below to watch Pastor Rick Linthicum's interview with Dr. Abell to discuss the food deserts in our community. If you are interested, join us at Amazing Grace Outreach Church on October 20, 2015 at 6 pm to participate in a discussion.

The hunger-poverty nexus. Food? What is its proper role? Case study of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Professor John Abell (Randolph College Department of Economics and Business).
Research and technical assistance provided by Lara Jesser (Director of Development, New Vistas School), Teague Nelson (History major, Randolph College), Victor Gosnell (Information Technology, Randolph College), Chris Cohen (Information Technology, Randolph College), and Raymond “Skip” Wallace (College Relations, Randolph College).
Support for this project was provided through a generous grant from the Virginia Department of Health.

The documentary film A Place at the Table reminds us that America has a hunger and poverty problem; at some time in their childhood, one out of two kids will have to rely on federal assistance for food. But the film points out that federal food programs are inadequate for addressing the rising numbers of food insecure people in this country (nearly 50 million). Philadelphia: a single mother of two finally found a full-time job, only to discover that in doing so, she lost all of her federal food benefits and was no longer able to properly feed her children. Charitable food agencies (having grown from only 200 in 1980 to over 40,000 today) are struggling to meet the demand of families all across the country.

But, aren’t these the problems of other people? Taking place in other communities? Unfortunately not: Lynchburg, Virginia also has a hunger and poverty problem. In fact, as will be noted along the way in a series of video interviews, Lynchburg’s hunger and poverty statistics are nearly always worse than those of its surrounding counties, the state of Virginia, and the nation as a whole. Here is one example: When I gave a talk on the topic of Lynchburg’s food desert in May 2012, I was shocked to have to report that 58 percent of Lynchburg’s school children were eligible for free or reduced price lunches. Unfortunately, two years later, that statistic had increased by four percentage points to 62 percent.

Dr. Delgardo “Rick” Linthicum, pastor of Amazing Grace Baptist Church, speaks to the problems of hunger and poverty in the community – February 6, 2014
Pastor Rick Linthicum of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Lynchburg’s White Rock Hill neighborhood was a guest at the December Lynchburg Area Food Council meeting. He spoke passionately of the need for greater access to healthy and affordable food for the citizens of his community; of the need for better bus service; of his church’s ministry that involves counseling and educating low-income residents in how to shop for basics like food and clothing. He said something rather profound: “If a minister can’t speak the gospel and also talk about economic development, then there’s got to be something wrong”. Well…, being an economist, I knew I had my first interviewee for this video project.
In the introductory posting, the graphic indicated that 62 percent of the students in  Lynchburg are eligible for free or reduced price lunches. This figure is substantially larger than the surrounding counties, the state of Virginia, and U.S. The 62 percent eligibility number, however, is not distributed equally across all schools: There is one school at 34 percent (Bedford Hills); one school at 47 percent (E.C. Glass). The remaining fourteen schools have an eligibility rate of 50 percent or higher; eight of them have an eligibility rate of 70 percent or higher; William M. Bass, which serves many of the students in Pastor Linthicum’s White Rock Hill neighborhood, tops the list at 96 percent.

© John Abell 2014 - All Rights Reserved

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