Facts and Figures
This project will primarily serve those in the greater Lansing or capitol area of Michigan, primarily in Ingham County, which includes the cities and townships of Lansing, East Lansing, Okemos, Holt, DeWitt, Haslett, Bath, Waverly, Grand Ledge, and others. According to US Census figures, the population is ~283,000: 78% White, 12% Black or African American, .7% Native American Indian, 5.6 % Asian, 7.6 Hispanic or Latino/a, and 3.7 % mixed race. These figures include 15,850 veterans and show that approximately half of the residents are women, 26% are children (<18) and 12% are senior citizens (>65). Of the overall population in the Lansing area, 27% live below poverty level.
The economic situation of Michigan has resulted in massive budgetary cuts, many of which affect the arts. According to John Bracey, executive director of Michigan’s Arts Agency, as of 2010 Michigan led the nation with an overall 80% cut to state arts funding, dropping the dollar amount from $7 million to just $2 million, down from a high of $26 million in 2001. These cuts continued in 2013 when Lansing announced that they were cutting 87 art, music, and gym teachers in elementary schools to reduce the cities overall deficit.
We chose to focus our project on hunger because cuts did not stop with art programs in Michigan. There have also been substantive cuts/changes to welfare programs that help feed the homeless, below poverty level, and poverty level citizens. According to the National Survey of Programs and Services for Homeless Families, the number of persons in homeless families in Lansing alone was 6876 in 2011, the second highest in the state. For region 7, of which Ingham is a part, the overall number is ~20,000 homeless. It is safe to say that many of these people have a difficult time meeting their needs for food as well. We can also speculate that the number of people who actually suffer from hunger is much greater than these numbers indicate, as one need not be homeless to be hungry.