Living in poverty can lead to long-term problems.
NELSONVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- About one in every five children in rural Ohio is living in poverty, an increase of 5.6 percent since 2000, according to a study of census figures.
Advocates for the poor say the numbers are disturbing. Living below the poverty line can cause a child's health and education to suffer, leading to long-term problems such as malnutrition and unemployment.
Ohio is one of five states to have at least a 5 percent increase in children living in poverty in rural areas, according a report by the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute, which analyzed census data collected in 2000 and 2005. The others are Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Maine.
"A hungry child cannot learn. And I guarantee you they will grow up to be an adult who cannot earn," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.
Hamler-Fugitt said the organization is feeding one of out every three households in some areas of the state. "The last three distributions I've been at, we've run out of food," she said.
Ohio had 100,002 children age 18 or younger living in rural areas below the poverty line in 2005, the report said. At the time, the poverty line was $19,806 for a family of two adults and two children.
Poor nutrition can contribute to obesity, diabetes and other health problems, said Rami Yoakum, spokesman for the Ross County Health District in southern Ohio. About 2,326 of the county's 69,000 residents qualified for the federal Women, Infants and Children food assistance program last month, up from 278 in July 2002.