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If all people are created equal, and if all people have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, much must be done to feed the hungry in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Lawrence, Massachusetts, is one of the poorest cities in the United States, and is the poorest in Massachusetts. With a population of just over 82,000 people, 69 percent of whom are Hispanic, 33.1 percent of the people of Lawrence live below the poverty line. Of children under age 18 in Lawrence, 49.9 percent live in households below the poverty line, as do 27 percent of people age 65 and older.

The combination of economic poverty and an unusually expensive housing market leaves many people in Lawrence without enough money to adequately feed themselves.

The majority of those who are hungry are members of families who work and do not earn enough income to pay for both housing and food. Approximately 75 percent of school-age children in Lawrence qualify for government-subsidized food programs – meaning that three out of four children in Lawrence are at risk for hunger.

Existing food and meal distribution centers offer assistance to several hundred adults and children per day in Lawrence. However, given the overwhelming numbers of hungry people in the city, existing centers cannot nearly adequately provide for the needs of the hungry.

Lawrence is divided into two sections – North Lawrence and South Lawrence – by the Merrimack River. In South Lawrence, where there are 19,000 households, in recent years there has been no center to provide hot meals for the general population.