Requests for emergency food assistance in Phoenix increased by 5 percent over the past year, according to the 2012 U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness survey. These numbers are expected to increase this year, despite Congress considering cuts to programs like SNAP (Food Stamps) that benefit these low-income families.

The survey also noted that food pantries and emergency kitchens across Phoenix, in response to increased demand, had to turn people away or reduce the amount of food provided to individuals. In Phoenix, an estimated 20 percent of the demand for emergency food assistance has gone un met at a time when record numbers of eligible individuals in Arizona are relying on SNAP benefits to feed their families.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness survey results for Phoenix are in line with other indicators showing how Arizona as a whole has struggled since the beginning of the recession. Recently released U.S. Census Bureau data showed 19.0 percent of individuals and 27.2 percent of children under the age of 18 in Arizona lived in poverty in 2011, while the latest food hardship and food insecurity data show one in five individuals and one in four of our children struggle with hunger and poverty. One in six Arizonans, of which half are children or seniors, receive SNAP benefits.

The annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness surveys 25 cities of varying size and wealth in all regions of the country, of which Phoenix is one. To view the full U.S. Conference of Mayors 2012 Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness, visit www.usmayors.org/pressreleases/uploads/2012/1219-report-HH.pdf.

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