Local Community in Poor Status

One community is not faring well when it comes to providing residents with basic needs such as food and shelter.

The "State of Taylor County" forum begins with a nice, free breakfast, but the Healthy Start Coalition says Taylor County has a 17 percent hunger rate, which is higher than any one state in the southeast.

Sarah Petty, a Taylor County resident, said, "I'm concerned with the welfare of other people, especially the children. We need concerned citizens to take care of our elderly and the little children, because they cannot take care of themselves properly."

Hunger is but one of many issues addressed among community leaders and concerned citizens Monday.

The coalition also pointed out that 2.3 percent of babies born in Taylor County die within the first year of life, and 35 percent of children have used drugs, tobacco, or alcohol within the last 30 days.

George Hinchliffe, executive director of the Healthy Start Coalition of Jefferson, Madison and Taylor Counties, said, "Several of the issues are linked to economic conditions of families. They impact our mothers and our newborn babies. Obviously substance abuse can be a significant issue, access to health care, hunger, housing. All of these things are interrelated."

Hinchliffe says Taylor County has one of the highest domestic violence and child abuse rates in Florida, but says not all the news is bad.

"Taylor County has done a wonderful job in making insurance programs available for their children. That's a very positive factor."

School performance and juvenile crime have also improved.

Healthy Start Coalition suggests the community confront local and state officials on these issues, as well as form a children services council.