Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Take Action on Hunger

September is Hunger Action Month. In 2006, more than 37 million people, more than 12 percent of all Americans, were living in poverty. Most of those struggled to find enough food each month. Two years later, after major disasters, with employment rates falling, the cost of living rising, and the country embroiled in a frightening economic crisis, the numbers must be even higher, and they will probably continue to rise. Feeding America, a national organization devoted to fighting hunger, is working hard to address the problem. This week on Lincoln Avenue, I’m talking with Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America.

Long known as Second Harvest, Feeding America provides surplus food and raises money to purchase additional supplies and transport them around the country. They run food banks, like the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley, but they also manage programs to feed children in schools and supply food for people in areas that have been hit by natural disasters.

The largest group served by Feeding America is children – about 9 million of them last year. The elderly and disabled also rely on food assistance programs. But what may surprise you is this: many of those who need help getting enough food every month are working adults. Especially as the cost of living goes up, many working people struggle to pay the rent and utilities, put enough gas in their cars to get to work, pay for health care, and still feed themselves and their families.

Unfortunately, the same forces that create increased demand for food assistance also make providing food to the hungry more expensive. Food and fuel both cost more these days. Meanwhile, almost everyone is a little worried about their personal economy, and some may be wary about giving.

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur is coming up in a couple of weeks. On that day, Jews traditionally fast, from sundown to sundown. In my household, it’s a tradition to donate to a hunger program in honor of the holiday. For me, that transforms the fast from something that can feel like a penance to something that reflects and reinforces my commitment to social justice. You may not be Jewish, and you may never fast, but I hope Vicki Escarra will inspire you to join me in making a donation to Feeding America or some other program that helps to feed the hungry.

1 comment:

2harvest said...

Sherry -

Thanks so much for spreading the word about hunger and poverty in America. With all of the economic uncertainty and rising food and gas prices - the need is greater than ever. It's great to know there are people like you out there blogging on behalf of organizations like Feeding America and your local food bank. Thank you!

Lindsi Gish