Our community is stronger when we work together. United Way has partnered with 30 local nonprofits and SVSU to form Midland County Hunger Connections—a collaborative designed to reduce barriers for the hungry. The goal of the group is to engage existing food security partners to foster ideas in which to collaborate to leverage resources, ensuring non-duplication of services. In collaboration with SVSU, a survey was conducted and the results assisted in illustrating our community’s food security needs and determining how our community can improve access.

The results of the survey show that food security—the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food—is an ongoing struggle for our neighbors in Midland County.

1 in 3 households in Midland County are struggling to meet basic needs, forcing them to make the difficult decision between paying bills and purchasing food for their family. Many of these families, adults and seniors fall in the ALICE population, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE households have an annual income that is higher than the U.S. poverty level, but their total annual earnings aren’t enough to meet the basic cost of living for the county they live in. Combined, the number of households in poverty and ALICE equals the total population struggling to afford basic needs. This represents 32% of households in Midland County.

Food security is an issue for 59.2% of ALICE households in Midland County. Since these households don’t qualify for government assistance programs, they often have to make the difficult decision of paying for housing, utilities and transportation over purchasing enough food for their families. These families, adults and seniors—above the poverty line but still struggling to meet basic needs—don’t always ask for help with food insecurity. In fact, up to 30% of those in need are not utilizing resources that are available to them. That’s why United Way of Midland County and 211 NE Michigan are teaming up with area agencies to assist those in need of food resources to raise awareness of food insecurity as well as resources in Midland County. The solution to access is simple—call 211 and their helpful team will guide callers to the resources that can help.

In the next month, a social media awareness campaign will be launched centering on the simple message—“Don’t go without.” In this campaign, United Way of Midland County and 211 Northeast Michigan will continue to provide information on the issue of food security and encourage those in need to call 211.
To learn more about the issue of food security in Midland County and the Hunger Collaborative working to provide resources for families, seniors and adults, call 211 or visit www.unitedwaymidland.org. Results from the 2016 Food Security Survey can be found at unitedwaymidland.org/hungerconnections.

United Way of Midland County works to advance the common good by focusing on the building blocks for a good life – Education, Health and Self-Sufficiency. They recruit the people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. They invite everyone to be a part of changing out community by giving, advocating and volunteering.

2-1-1 is a free, easy to remember telephone number that connects people in need with people who can help. 2-1-1 provides Northeast Michigan with referrals and information to assist people who are looking for help. We offer this free and confidential service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 2-1-1 Northeast Michigan is your free, single connection to the hundreds of health and human services available in our community. You get one-call convenience and assistance from a trained specialist who directs you to the resources that will serve you best during your time of need.