Grand Strand reflects trend of millions more poor or near poor

The group served food to a record 500 people Saturday. / Lindsey Theis

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. - The Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach off Highway 17 holds a free food distribution once a month.

Organizers say the church's committee decided to hold the non-need based distribution after Angel Food Ministries closed in September. Saturday, people could get food to take home, get a hair cut, eat a hot meal, and even take home other things they can't afford to buy.

On past Saturdays, organizers say they have been averaging 115 families who are in need of their services. This weekend, they counted 185 families. They also normally feed 350 people and today they fed 500.

This increase comes on the tails of a new report out in the New York Times shows 100 million people - one in three Americans - either in poverty or in the near poverty zone just above it.

"Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September," the article says.

The released poverty rate from the census ignores hundreds of billions of assistance from food stamps, tax credits and other programs like those from the Surfside Beach church. It also ignores the sums lost to taxes, medical care and work expenses. The new method includes those and adjusts for differences in the cost of living, which the official measure ignores.

The most recent census date shows 15.5% of Myrtle Beach was below the poverty line in 2009.

"There is definitely a greater need this month than there has been in the past," Nikki McDaniel told NewsChannel 15.

The church will also hold distributions on December 17, Janurary 21, and February 18.