Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Someone's Hungry Tonight

I’ve always been a little skeptical of charity as a model for solving social problems, because donations to community organizations, even those that do incredibly good, important work, treat the effects of social problems but not the causes.

But I think about hunger a little differently. True, hunger is the effect of a more difficult and more significant social problem: poverty. And I do sometimes worry that if we treat hunger but ignore the poverty that causes it, we won’t make a long-term difference. And yet, hunger is such an immediate, basic issue that I can’t turn away from it. I’ve been volunteering at food banks like Second Harvest on and off for more than 20 years, and I donate every year to programs that feed the hungry. I hope you’ll join me in that. You can donate food to any of the dozens of food drives going on in the Mahoning Valley this winter, or donate money by visiting the Second Harvest website. You can also volunteer to help at the warehouse.

Donations matter, but I was also struck by Michael Iberis’s answer to my question about how we might address the causes of hunger. As he suggested, one of the reasons why working people have difficulty feeding their families is that so many of us have not learned how to select and prepare food efficiently. In an age of processed convenience foods, we’ve forgotten the “stone soup” strategies of our grandmothers. Better use of the food we have won’t erase hunger, but I like the idea of a practical, hands-on approach that can at least help. I’m looking forward to seeing what Mike cooks up.

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