Hunger in America

Recently my son was asked to write a speech on hunger in America.  Before he started writing it, we discussed it for a few days every time we were heading somewhere.  Kids understand that there are people who do not have enough food.  But it becomes much more clear if hunger has a face!  This has them asking questions–like why and how and what can they do to help?  Kids are great!

In Nebraska, 1 in 8 people struggle with hunger.  According to Feeding America, these are the brutal statistics:

In 2014:

  • 48.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children.
  • 14 percent of households (17.4 million households) were food insecure.
  • 6 percent of households (6.9 million households) experienced very low food security.
  • Households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 19 percent compared to 12 percent.
  • Households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (19%), especially households with children headed by single women (35%) or single men (22%), Black non-Hispanic households (26%) and Hispanic households (22%).
  • In 2013, 5.4 million seniors (over age 60), or 9 percent of all seniors were food insecure.

Hunger in America.  As an RD, I have a basic understanding of who is hungry, why, and what efforts are being made to reduce this.  I know that there is not one particular reason why someone is food insecure, and not one specific way to help solve the problem.   But have I given hunger a face?  I see homeless people almost every day going to work.  I often wonder if I should offer them a sandwich–or something?  Why are they homeless?  Do they want help?  Is it psychological? Are they scamming?  All hard questions.

I know there are a LOT of efforts in my town to help the hungry.  Even in Omaha we have food deserts and families who don’t have food in their homes.   We have homeless shelters, food pantries, EBT cards, back pack programs, etc…  But people still fall between the cracks.  So how do we help?  Well–I believe it’s one person at a time.  The movement of one–so to speak.

We collaborate with many entities in Douglas and Sarpy Counties to try and reduce hunger.  Our nutrition staff works with the Food Bank for the Heartland – Hunger Free Heartland, The Open Door Mission, and many food pantries.   During the summer, our Master Gardeners work at the Hope Garden project. They spend all summer raising a HUGE garden, then donate all of the harvest to the homeless.  We attack the problem from many different aspects–and know they all are making a difference.

This week there was a news article about a school in town whose students wanted to help their fellow students who didn’t have enough food.  So they started their own food pantry. Students get to go through weekly and choose fresh fruits and canned goods and easy meals.  It helps those that need, and those that want to help feel like they are helping–even in a small way–even if it’s just a small amount of kids.

The same son that wrote the speech volunteers at our churches food pantry.  He has seen hunger.  He knows what it looks like.  It’s humbling knowing that there are people who need help–and I am proud that he wants to be part of the solution.  He doesn’t wonder what he should do–he does it!  Maybe I need to take a lesson from him.  If we all did our part–maybe we could decrease hunger.  I don’t have to solve the worlds problems–but maybe I can give a person in need a sandwich or donate canned goods and too small coats to our food pantry.  It starts with one!

This was written to encourage thought on my readers part.  It is not trying to prove anything.  Just something to ponder when you head to the fridge and grumble nothing looks good.  Be grateful we have something!

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