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Food insecurity rising in Valdosta; what local food banks are doing to help

More people in the South Georgia region are going hungry, with Valdosta seeing nearly 20,000 residents go without.
Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 04, 2024
  • Nearly 20,000 neighbors across Lowndes County are struggling with food insecurity according to Feeding America.
  • One in 4 children in the South Georgia region don't know where their next meal is coming from.,
  • Watch the video to hear from neighbors on how they're getting by with the rising price of food.


The number of Lowndes County neighbors struggling with hunger is going up.

Inflation and severe weather are not helping.

"I would make more in food stamps when I lived in Tallahassee and I was getting little cost of living increases versus here."

I'm Malia Thomas, your neighborhood reporter in Valdosta.

I'm digging into why more people are going hungry here, and what's being done to help.

Linda Gonzales came to Valdosta two years ago.

"I worked with The Red Cross."

She was looking for a fresh start after evacuating from Hurricane Ian farther south.

At one point, she was forced to live in a tent.

"and they helped me get everything here. Paid for everything. Food, everything."

She tells me she's grateful to live in an apartment now, but it's still been a struggle, especially with the effects of Hurricane Idalia in 2023 and rising food prices decimating her budget.

"So imagine stretching out $1300 a month and only get $75 food stamps when you have to pay rent. And electricity. And with inflation and everything, your money does not go that far."

On top of that, she is disabled and finds herself walking everywhere.

"I probably could have a car, but that would be like, 'OK, do I want food more or do you want a vehicle? Which one?' So I choose food."

Linda's not the only one facing these problems.

I checked with Feeding America.

16.7% of area residents don't know where their next meal is coming from.

1 in 4 across the board are children.

To meet the need, Second Harvest has been busy distributing over 6,100 food boxes to area neighbors.

Janna Luke, director of development, tells me they need funding to tackle food insecurity, but that has been slowing down recently.

"It costs money to send the trucks out to pick up the food.

One way you can help?

"So donations are really big and sometimes during the summer they they kind of fall by the wayside."

Keeping food flowing to neighbors like Gonzales.

Her suggestion?

"I really think the food banks should come inside the communities."

The South Georgia region has the second highest childhood food insecurity rate in the state, and Second Harvest is working to combat this with their summer Kids Cafe program. In Valdosta, I'm Malia Thomas, reporting for ABC27.