It’s great to know where our next meal is coming from. Food brings people together. Especially during the holiday season! But what about the 14.5% of households who are hungry without dependable, consistent access to food? Where will their next meal come from and how can we help put food on their tables? We are our brother’s keeper, and many of us, if we look closely, realize we have family members, neighbors or people we come in contact with each day who are hungry. With this column we ask you to give to your local food bank, faith based organization, or the family down the street.
Hunger is often described with the phrase “food insecurity.” That means you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. You don’t have the money or the resources to ensure you and your family have a dependable and consistent source of food. People who experience food insecurity live in every county of the United States, with a low of five percent of the people in Steele County, ND to a high of 38 percent in Wilcox County, AL. In 2010, 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households. That’s 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children. That is a lot of people. Many are working. Some are college educated. Eight percent are seniors who live alone. Households with children experienced more food insecurity than those without children.
With all the gridlock in Washington this is not the time to wait for the government to solve this problem. It’s up to us to care. And it’s easy. Look at what you are going to spend to celebrate the upcoming holidays. Make a budget. And then figure out how much of that budget you can use to help ensure families in your community have something to eat. It’s not that hard. You can donate 85% of your company’s holiday party budget and use the other 15% for a smaller scale breakfast. You can donate 50% – or 100% – of what you would give as client gifts to your local food bank. You can look at your family holiday budget and donate a percentage. Engage your children in giving. As a family you can purchase a gift card to a local grocery store and slip the card under your neighbor’s door. You can send your sister-in-law a check or an anonymous gift card.
Remember, hunger doesn’t announce itself. Our pride often keeps us from sharing our troubles. We believe they will end soon, we fear what others will think, we don’t want to ask for a “handout.” Think about it – if your sister-in-law or your neighbor has been unemployed for 18 months, most likely she is having trouble paying her bills and feeding her children. The older couple you see at church each week may not be eating three meals a day. Too many children are coming to school hungry and have difficulty concentrating. You can make a difference.