Hard Choices: Heat or Eat?
Winter in Maine can be a difficult time. Whether we are pummeled by snow storms or whether, like this year, we are lucky enough to have a mild winter, many families find themselves making tough choices. Faced with a tight budget and high utility costs, many Mainers are forced to choose between paying for food and paying for heat.
This is the case for working Mainers too, and not just those who are still looking for work. Even with a steady income, wintertime heating expenses can become too burdensome for many families to bear.
In Maine, more than 200,000 people lack access to enough nutritious food to lead a healthy life. Of the people served through Good Shepherd Food Bank’s network of partner food pantries, 56% report having to choose between paying for food or paying for heat and other utilities.
In a national study of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) recipients, 30% reported going without food for at least one day, 41% went without medical or dental care, 33% did not fill a prescription or took less than a full dose of their medication, and 25% had someone in the home who became sick because the home was too cold. [Source: The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, 2009 National Energy Assistance Survey.]
Despite the challenges facing Maine families this winter, there’s something we can all do to help. Maine is model when it comes to neighbors stepping forward to give a helping hand, as we saw recently in the heartwarming case of Hometown Energy and the residents of Dixfield.
Want to help?
You can make a donation to Good Shepherd Food Bank. Every $1 donated provides $8 worth of food for a Mainer in need.
You can find your local food pantry or soup kitchen and reach out to ask how you can help. Find a hunger relief organization in your community.
Together, we can make sure all Mainers are warm and well-fed for the rest of the winter.