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Holiday season impacts overall poverty rate in Montgomery County

The region's income gap is laid bare when holidays like Thanksgiving roll around, a Montgomery County Council member says.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — D.C. and its suburbs are the nation's third most prosperous metro area, according to U.S. Census and Federal Reserve data. But in Maryland, there's an income gap that's laid bare when holidays like Thanksgiving roll around, Tom Hucker, a Montgomery County Council member, said.

"That's certainly not the image of Montgomery County, right?" Hucker asked while volunteering Wednesday at a food bank operated by Adventist Community Services on Sligo Ave. in Silver Spring.

By the numbers, Montgomery County's poverty rate stands at about seven percent, according to the U.S. Census. The unemployment rate is 2.7%, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

According to Hucker, that indicates a very large population of people who are working full time, but still facing poverty.

"The wages people are making even when they are working two or three jobs don't keep up with costs," Hucker said.

"The cost of living in this particular area is very high," he said.

64,000 Montgomery County residents receive federal SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. About 1,000 county residents received Thanksgiving food assistance from Adventist Community Services, an indicator that government supported food assistance doesn't come close to meeting the need, Ken Flemmer, the Executive Director of ACS, said.

"The amount of poverty in the tenth wealthiest county in this country has been something that's just stunned me," Flemmer said.

"This is why giving matters, not just now, but all year long," Hucker said.

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