Imagine this…it is Thanksgiving time. Your family is anxiously awaiting a mouthwatering feast of turkey and all the yummy fixings. Sadly, when you go to open your pantry and refrigerator, they are bare. Instead of driving to the store, you instead need to lace up your sneakers for the five-mile jaunt to the local food pantry. This scenario is a reality for Amanda. Last year, she and her family faced the challenge of deciding whether to buy food or pay for transportation and other necessities.
Amanda’s story is one of the millions that exist when it comes to struggling with hunger. She and her family are a part of the nearly 49 million Americans who are food insecure in the United States. You might be surprised to learn who is hungry in the land of the plenty. According to the recent Hunger in America study, more than half of the households who visit a food pantry had at least one employed person at some point in the past year. Many of the hungry (20 percent) have even served our country in the military.
Hunger is real. It is not a game. It does not discriminate between age, race or geography. Anyone can be affected by food insecurity. Childhood hunger can affect a child’s ability to learn while in school and throughout life. Older Americans who go hungry can experience adverse health and nutrition implications due to eating fewer calories and key nutrients, like protein and iron, and develop chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease. As Amanda experienced, hunger can force people to choose between buying food, paying for transportation, medication or housing expenses (e.g., rent, electricity, heat, etc.).
Wondering how you can help in the fight against hunger? Here are some ways to get started now:
- Raise awareness. September is Hunger Action Month. Wear orange during the month to help spur the discussion about hunger in America. Or take a selfie with an orange spoon and share it on your social channels using #Spoontember.
- Give the gift of time. Consider volunteering at your local food bank or pantry. It can be rewarding to know you are helping those who are in need within your community. Find your local food bank here.
- Offer the treasure of nutrition. Donate to your local food bank directly or through programs like the Great American Milk Drive, which help to provide nutrient-rich milk to food bank families in your local area.
Keep the conversation going about hunger throughout September. Use #HungerActionMonth or #GoOrange in your tweets/posts.