About 17,000 kids in Benton and Franklin counties have limited or uncertain access to food, according to the most recent Map the Meal Gap research by Feeding America.
12.4 percentNumber of people who were food insecure in 2014 in Benton County
9.2 percentNumber of people who were food insecure in Franklin County
People facing food insecurity must choose whether to pay for housing, medical bills or food at some point during the year. In Benton County, 12.4 percent of people were food insecure in 2014, while in Franklin County the number was 9.2 percent. There have been higher percentages of youth living with food insecurity in our area than in the state or nation for most years since 2005, according to Benton-Franklin Trends.
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The No Kid Hungry organization warns that children who don’t get enough to eat struggle more in school, have more health-related issues and are less likely to finish high school or enter college. They will grow up to be adults who are less likely to make a livable wage, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty.
If you could use some help, or if you know someone who could, there are many available besides the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Local food banks offer food to anyone who signs a statement of need and provides identification. The WIC program provides healthy food and much more to pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms, and children under age 5. Families participating in WIC are also eligible to receive checks that can be spent at local farmers markets. For locations, call 800-322-2588.
Nationally, 9 percent of households, including people 65 or older, experienced food insecurity in 2014, according to Feeding America. If you are 60 or older with an annual income less than $15,301, or less than $20,709 for a couple, you can apply for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which is administered by local food banks. This program supplies an additional monthly box of food. For more information, call the Tri-Cities Food Bank at 509-582-0411.
There have been higher percentages of youth living with food insecurity in our area than in the state or nation for most years since 2005, according to Benton-Franklin Trends.
Also available locally for those 60 and older are home-delivered meals from Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels, as well as noon meals at dining centers throughout Benton and Franklin counties. In their last survey of clients receiving home-delivered meals, 50 percent said they worry less about having enough food to eat since beginning the meal service. The organization requests a donation per meal. It also administers the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, where those with an annual income below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level receive checks to buy fresh produce and honey at local farmers markets. For more information, go to seniorliferesources.org.
Timetable for cooking rice
Water for 1 1/3 cups rice
Minutes at a simmer
Long grain white rice
2 2/3 cups
3 2/3 cups
1 2/3 cups
5 1/4 cups
White jasmine rice
2 1/3 cups
2 2/3 cups
Delicious Bean and Rice Plate
Servings: 4. Preparation Time: 55 minutes, plus time to cook the beans.
1 1/4 cups of any type of dried beans, such as black, kidney, navy or pinto; or approximately
3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/3 cups rice; brown, red or black if available
8 or more cups of vegetables, fresh, frozen or canned
Salsa, salad dressing or whatever condiments you have on hand
Discard any spoiled beans, rinse, and place in a container large enough to add water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Consider making extra beans and freezing any leftovers. Allow to soak overnight. The next afternoon, drain and rinse the beans, place them in a large saucepan or pot, and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until tender. This will take 60 minutes or more, depending upon the type of bean. Check the beans occasionally and add water if the beans are not covered with water. Once tender, drain the water from the beans.
To cook the rice, add the rice and the amount of water shown in the table to a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover tightly, and cook for the time shown.
Chop all vegetables into bite-sized pieces while the rice is cooking.
Place about a cup of beans, a cup of rice, and 1/4 of the vegetables onto each of 4 large plates. Mix with salsa, salad dressing or other condiment, and serve. Refrigerate leftovers vegetables. Refrigerate or freeze leftover rice and beans.
Nutrition information per serving (assuming 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup pinto beans, 1 cup lettuce, 1 cup corn, and 1/4 cup salsa per serving): 582 calories, 3 grams fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, 417 mg sodium, 118 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams fiber, 23 grams protein, 10 grams sugars, 87 percent vitamin a, 11 percent vitamin c, 22 percent calcium, 29 percent iron.