- Associated Press - Sunday, December 22, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island Foundation is giving emergency grants totaling $180,000 to food banks, after a report found that thousands of the state’s residents cannot afford three meals a day.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank said in a report last month that it takes 188.3 million meals annually to feed the 172,000 Rhode Island residents living in households qualifying for food assistance. But, the food bank calculated, their household earnings and benefits cover 177 million meals, leaving a gap of 11.3 million meals annually.

That prompted the nonprofit foundation to announce the emergency grants on Wednesday for seven social service agencies that provide food to low-income households. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank received $50,000 to pay for 185,000 additional meals.

“While we continue to pursue long-term solutions to poverty, we also support these organizations in providing immediate and critical assistance to struggling Rhode Islanders,” Neil Steinberg, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Food bank CEO Andrew Schiff has said that the gap of 11.3 million meals is too high, but is down from 33.2 million meals in 2016 because more people are working. In 2016, 198,000 residents qualified for food assistance.

The food bank’s network of pantries serves about 53,000 people each month.

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