Today is World Food Day—a day dedicated to eradicating hunger worldwide.
Grow Appalachia works to eradicate hunger in the Appalachian region by helping as many Appalachian families grow as much of their own food as possible. Reclaiming one’s land and food agency is a powerful tool in the effort to challenge hunger and food insecurity.
Another powerful tool is knowledge.
The Kentucky Association of Food Banks has compiled information on Kentucky food bank clients in their 2014 Report on Hunger. Their results are equally astounding and upsetting. You can find the full results here but some of the more impactful statistics are below:
• Each week, 53,400 Kentuckians receive food from a food bank.
• Kentucky food banks feed 611,100 people every year. That’s 1 in 7 Kentuckians.
• 48% of all food bank food recipients are either children or elderly.
• 74% of KY food bank clients had to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities
• 68% of KY food bank clients had to choose between paying for food or paying for transportation
• 74% of KY food bank clients chose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care
• 90% of KY food bank clients have bought the cheapest food available, regardless of health
• 63% of KY food bank clients have eaten expired food to get enough to eat
• 34% of KY food bank clients have watered down food or drinks to make them last longer
And this is just for Kentucky. You can learn more about hunger across the United States at Feeding America’s website.
I know reading all these statistics about hunger can be disheartening. With so much widespread hunger and poverty, it can feel like nothing is being done. But that’s where programs like the Summer Food Service Program come in.
The Summer Food Service Program exists to eradicate child hunger in the summer months when school is out. Later today, everyone at Headquarters is heading out to plant strawberries in the office garden. Our goal is to grow enough strawberries to be able to contribute to the Summer Food Service Programs in Berea next summer. I encourage all Grow Appalachia sites to consider growing a row or two of produce to contribute local Summer Food Service Programs. And for those with a little more capacity, like schools, non-profits, and college campuses, consider running a Summer Food Service Program to serve your area. If you’re in Kentucky, contact Cathy Gallagher and Cyndi Willmarth at the state office. They are encouraging, enthusiastic, and a wealth of information for anyone looking to open a summer feeding site. I am also happy and willing to talk about the Summer Food Service Program and brainstorm ideas with anyone who is interested in finding out more, so feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those looking for more individual responses to hunger (if you want to know what you can do to combat hunger in your community), here are some ideas and resources:
Talk about hunger
Like the Kentucky Association of Food Banks Facebook Page and share our posts about Eradicating Poverty
Host a fundraiser
Hold a food drive
Check out the Farms to Food Banks program in Kentucky