A new report from a child welfare organization shows that children in Ohio’s Appalachian counties are worse off than kids in inner-city neighborhoods.
The report from the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio says children in Ohio’s eastern and southern counties are increasingly at a disadvantage. They are more likely to suffer from hunger, obesity and a lack of health care than kids in the rest of the state.
The report shows that just over 28 percent of children in Ohio’s 32-county Appalachian region live in poverty, according to The Columbus Dispatch .
Statewide, child-poverty rates increased 39 percent from 2002 to 2012. Youth poverty increased 136 percent in Appalachian counties, compared with 50 percent in the state’s other counties.
The Children’s Defense Fund report recommended seven state and local initiatives that would help children in need, including state tax incentives that help families make healthy food choices. It also called for more child fitness and wellness programs and incentives to encourage doctors to work in rural areas.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said her group has tried to address the hunger issue. It sponsors about 2,500 free farmers markets with surplus goods from Ohio growers.
About 20 percent of the association’s 3,300 food pantries, food kitchens and homeless shelters in Ohio serve Appalachia, she said, adding that “there’s never enough.”
Statewide, the association served more than 2.5 million Ohioans in the quarter ending March 31.