- September 23, 2020
September is Hunger Action Month. It was established by Feeding America in 2008 when they decided it was time for a nationwide push to get involved with the hunger crisis across the country. During September, people everywhere help to feed the needy in their neighborhoods and country, working to ensure that the 48 million people
September is Hunger Action Month. It was established by Feeding America in 2008 when they decided it was time for a nationwide push to get involved with the hunger crisis across the country. During September, people everywhere help to feed the needy in their neighborhoods and country, working to ensure that the 48 million people who live with hunger every day can get some relief.
Going hungry is a problem for more than just adults. Children all over the country go to school without a proper breakfast, leading to difficulty focusing on their education, alertness, and generally performing well.
Hunger affects all sorts of people. Many people across the country are just one job loss or medical emergency short of not being able to put food on the table.
In Pennsylvania, one in eight adults, and one in six children struggle with hunger. That’s almost 1.7 million people, almost 500,000 of which, are kids.
Kids who go hungry are at more risk of repeating grades in school, experiencing developmental impairments in areas like language and motor skills and more likely to have behavioral and social problems.
Children struggling with hunger come from families who are struggling, too. Children facing hunger often grow up in a family where a parent or parents also face hunger. A family of four facing hunger may be in need of 34 additional meals a month simply because they don’t have money to buy enough food.
Luckily, several local school districts have recently received grants that are allowing them to offer free breakfast and lunch for every student. This includes being able to take home food for the days they aren’t in school if they are hybrid students.
Children and adults aren’t alone in the hunger struggle. Our senior citizens are also working to balance bills and medical care with food. According to Feeding America, 64 percent of seniors they serve are choosing between food and medical care. Feeding America also notes that “The rate of hunger among seniors aged 60 and older has increased by 68% since 2001, a lingering effect of the 2008-09 recession. In fact, the number of seniors struggling with hunger is projected to increase by another 50% when the youngest of the baby-boom generation reaches 60 in 2025. And hunger pains can be increasingly painful as we age.”
Feeding America says, each year, millions of people in America face hunger. The coronavirus pandemic has caused even more families to struggle. They estimate that 54 million people may be food insecure in 2020, including 18 million children.
The pandemic has caused more families to seek help from food banks in the Feeding America network. Food banks estimate that 4 in 10 people visiting a food bank now need assistance as a result of COVID-19.
Experiencing hunger during childhood can have a life-long impact on your mental and physical health and educational achievement.
Many of the families that Feeding America food banks serve work part-time or full-time jobs. However, low wages, underemployment, and necessary expenses like rent prevent families from meeting their basic needs.
Federal nutrition programs, like SNAP and WIC, feed millions every year. Yet, many who struggle with hunger are unlikely to qualify for these programs because they are employed or have incomes slightly above the poverty-line.
So, what can we do to help?
The first answer is the most obvious. Donate. Be it to an organization like Feeding America or staying local by donating to the Central PA Food Bank, or the Salvation Army’s Food Pantry.
The Williamsport Area School District has also taken steps in the fight against childhood hunger with their Backpack Program. Funded by the Williamsport Education Foundation, and in conjunction with the Central PA Food Bank, this program allows kids to take home backpacks with food for weekends and holidays.
All of these organizations are working in the fight against hunger locally and can always use both food and financial donations. If you can’t donate that way, consider donating your time. Fifty-one percent of food programs rely on volunteers.
We live in the highest food producing country in the world. No one should be going hungry, so let’s all do what we can to help.