The Hunger Crisis Persists…but You Can Help to Stamp It Out
No images of emaciated children. No images of mother’s desperately trying to feed their children from deflated breasts. While a start and heartrending illustration of facts and figures those images often leave me feeling helpless…and they also feel exploitative and I feel like the worst kind of voyeur seeing that level of suffering. No discussion about a misunderstood book and its popular movie spawn. Instead, some musings and suggestions…
I wish we were talking more about the growing hunger crisis. I wish we were doing more about the growing hunger crisis. Too many factors are coalescing to exacerbate things. Unemployment in the U.S. is still in the danger zone. Those monthly reports don’t tell a full story because their numbers don’t account for people who (a) have stopped looking for work; (b) are underemployed and so likely not earning enough to support a healthy life; and (c) have never entered the workforce. And then, that’s just the adults, working adults. According to a recent report from Meals on Wheels (only 19 pages), many more seniors are also now at increased risk for going hungry; 1 in 7 or 8.3 million, mostly in the South and Southwest United States. That’s a 78% increase since 2001. And then, of course, there’s the children. As the summer break approaches so many children will either go hungry or be undernourished because being out of schools means having less access to food. Meanwhile I’m hearing and seeing many news reports about demand at food banks increasing, while supplies are decreasing. Fifty million Americans live in “food insecure” homes…yeah that’s just a pretty way of saying that fifty million people are going hungry on a too regular basis.
And it’s not just in the U.S. Consider Spain, which currently has an unemployment rate of 25%. (And I haven’t forgotten – of course not – about what I expect is a deep hunger crisis in Jamaica…a post addressing this will be published later this month.)
In short, everyone is feeling it.
But you can do something instead of reading, sighing, shaking your head, and feeling helpless.
There are still many of us who can spare just a little and I encourage you to donate when and where you can. A convenient opportunity for us U.S. folks to donate is on Saturday, May 12 – Stamp Out Hunger. This is the 20th year of the initiative and it has a strong reputation: “in 2011, 70.2 million pounds of food was donated, which brought the grand total of donations to more than 1.1 billion pounds of food collected over the history of the drive.” This Saturday simply place a bag of non-perishable food items (no expired items and no glass) by your mailbox and your postal worker will pick it up when he or she drops off your mail. Convenient. Easy. No pressure. Do it. On the way home from work on Friday and before you jet out to see The Avengers (good movie by the way) or to have drinks with friends, just make a quick stop at the supermarket and grab some things. Even $10 worth of items will go a long way for families that need it. Food collected during Stamp Out Hunger will be distributed to local food banks.
Of course, I also encourage you to check out your community organizations (churches, synagogues, mosques are a good start) to see which ones address food issues and try to make a regular donation. Again, even a small commitment can do a lot for families in need. Reaching out to your local organization has the added benefit of being able to see how things are run, to ensure that your donation will be effectively and well used. And you may even be able to volunteer some time.
But one step at a time.
This handy tool from Feeding America can help to find your local food bank. The results will also give statistics on poverty and hunger in your area…context helps. To give the Jamaicans in farrin a jump start:
- in the DC area, the main food bank is the Capital Area Food Bank;
- in Maryland it’s the Maryland Food Bank;
- there are several food banks in Virginia (full list here);
- in New York City there is City Harvest and Food Bank for NYC (full list here);
- in New Jersey there is the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and partner organization Mercer Street Friends (full list here);
- in Connecticut there is Foodshare and Connecticut Food Bank; and,
- in South Florida there is Feeding South Florida (see full list here).
Every mikkle mek a mukkle.