What if all you could think about was how hungry you are? This morning, while you are pouring your organic granola, listen carefully to the clinking as it hits the bottom of your empty bowl. For many in our area, that sound echoes deeper than you and I may realize.
For the more than 23,000 households served by Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina each month, the sound of food filling a dish is hope for a better day. One of our strategic focuses at CCAP is addressing food insecurity, hunger, in the communities we serve.
The projects of Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina reflect some of the multiple ways we work to address hunger. We had no idea when we started preparing earlier this year for marking September as Hunger Action Month that a convergence of occurrences would make last month the perfect time to discuss food insecurity and to engage the public about the issue of hunger in our community.
Let me tell you why I believe now is the time to take action, to join the fight against hunger. We are currently experiencing a government shutdown. Furloughed government employees, some who relied on that income to make ends meet and sustain their families, now find themselves unable to provide even the basic needs for their families and uncertain as to what the future holds. We expect to see these individuals requesting assistance if they are not called back to work soon.
A couple weeks ago, the US House of Representatives voted to cut the food stamp program by $39 billion; food stamps already average less than $5 per day. To put that into perspective, congressmen receive a per diem of $166 when traveling. Locally, we have a man-made catastrophe caused by the implementation state-wide of new software in the Department of Social Services.
The NC Fast software has created a significant delay for hundreds of families in Cumberland County and thousands of families across the state in accessing critical food and nutrition services for which they are eligible. Leaving them to question how they will feed their families each day. These are often hardworking, underemployed individuals. Fortunately for them, our distribution network of food pantries is there.
Also recently, the poverty levels for 2012 were released by the Census Bureau. Though Americans are slowly becoming employed following our deep recession, many have become the working poor—struggling on wages of $10/hour or less to have balanced, nutritious meals on the table. These underemployed families rely on the services of food banks to fill the food gap.
Finally, the N.C. General Assembly recently cut the weeks of unemployment down to 20. This November, the week of Thanksgiving, marks week 21 when someone unemployed since July is no longer eligible to receive unemployment. Again, these individuals are left wondering how they can feed their family.
It has long been said that it takes a village to raise a child. What we know is that it takes a village to create real, meaningful change. Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.
To change this village, we need your help. Join us in this fight against hunger. We encourage each member of this community to help however they can. Volunteer. Advocate. Donate. Or simply become more educated on the issue of hunger in our community by viewing our documentary available at hungercantwait.org. And let us know what you think and how you can help.
L. Ron Pringle