The 2017 Out of Reach report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition tells us that Vermont has the fifth largest gap between average wages and average cost for a two bedroom apartment in our country. That means families with low incomes face challenging tradeoffs and food is often where the family budget gets trimmed. Of the 153,000 Vermonters who use food shelves or meal sites, 72% purchase cheaper less nutritious food in order to afford rent, health care, and other life necessities.
I won’t belabor the point, which is that everything is connected. The reason people are food insecure, homeless or have untreated health issues is that families don’t have enough money to go around. A family raising a child with special needs or a chronic disease faces limited options and must function with a laser focus. An elderly couple with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can’t “bootstrap” their way to prosperity.
An economically sustainable community is something we all build together. When all families are stable and have more options we all prosper. That’s why your Vermont Foodbank cares about affordable housing. We all should.