“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa
Young. Old. Black. White. Your neighbor. Your co-worker. The little girl who sits in front of your daughter in second-grade class… Their faces sullen and withered; their spirits low, their souls wondering why, how it has come to this… standing in line at the bank… the food bank. Yes, it’s easy to look the other way, to deny its existence in the land of plenty. Yet, from coast to coast across our great nation there is a silent suffering; a disturbing, appalling travesty – hunger.
It’s National Hunger Awareness Month so I’m going to ask you one question: What do you hunger for? A promotion? A bigger house? Fortune? Success? Of course, you do! We all do. Now imagine trying to achieve your goals and dreams without proper nourishment, nutrition, food; having to choose between feeding your children or paying the heating bill, feeding yourself or having enough money to put gas in your car so you can go to a job interview. Not a pretty picture is it? And the picture gets more disturbing…
According to Meals on Wheels, 1 in 6 seniors is threatened by hunger, most being women since elderly women outnumber elderly men 2 to 1. A recent article in the NY Daily News states that 1 in 5 New Yorkers depends on aid for food. That’s nearly 1.4 million people relying on a network of 1000 food pantries and soup kitchens just to eat! And, these are the very troubling facts according to Feeding America’s most recent statistics, soon to be updated this year:
- Almost 16 million children live in food insecure households
- 1 in 4 — almost 25% — Black households is food insecure compared with 1 in 10 (11.2%) White households
- Nearly 1 in 3 Black children (31.5%) lives in a food insecure household compared with 1 in 6 (16.9%) White children
- Nearly 1 in 4 (23.3%) Latino households is food insecure compared with 1 in 10 (11.2%) White households
- More than 1 in 4 Latino children (28.7%) live in a food insecure household compared with 1 in 6 (16.9%) White children
- Although they are related, food insecurity and poverty are NOT the same. Unemployment rather than poverty is a stronger indicator of food insecurity.
NAPW Newport Local Chapter prepares bag lunches for the hungry.
We’re half way through our Year of Action and we must continue taking action and using our power and influence to combat hunger. I’m extremely proud that this month, as always, our NAPW Local Chapters are going above and beyond with hunger awareness initiatives all across the country. So, if you haven’t joined a Chapter in your area yet, it’s an opportune time to do so. Here are some ways you can make a difference and fight hunger in your communities.
- Contact your local, state and federal legislators and let them know you want the minimum wage raised.
- Volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen this month and every month.
- Lead a food drive at your child’s school, your office or your business. Then drop off all the donated food to a local food bank.
- Volunteer for a Meals on Wheels program in your area. They always need reliable, compassionate volunteers to deliver or prepare meals.
- Make a monetary donation to a food pantry in your area. They’ll be able to purchase specific items that are in great need but donated less frequently. Or purchase a gift card from a grocery chain in your area and donate that instead.
- If you know anyone who is a mechanic, ask them if they’d like to help by volunteering to service and fix food bank delivery vehicles.
- Offer to speak at local houses of worship, schools, senior citizen centers or community centers about the importance of proper nutrition, how to be a smart food shopper or low-cost ways to purchase and prepare healthy food.
Yes, ladies, we have the power to take action against hunger. And, we must! The silent storm must end. We must end it together. We must shout louder, stand stronger and join forces to calm the tide of our nation’s rising hunger epidemic.
In the wise words of Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, “Never doubt a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
How do you plan to combat hunger? Share your comments below.