September is Hunger Action Month    

Here at OrganicAuthority, we spend a lot of time talking about food—preferably the natural, organic kind. But we often forget to consider the problem of hunger—not just in struggling third-world countries, but here in the United States.   

The harsh reality? Children and adults are starving in our own backyards. 

Understanding the Problem   

When most people think of “the hungry,” they conjure up images of children with swollen bellies in impoverished countries, the homeless or poor people who live “somewhere else.” But millions of Americans are going hungry in every U.S. community. Families are living one catastrophe away from hunger: the loss of a job, a major car repair or a family illness. 

Marci is a single mom living in Iowa with a 9-year-old daughter. She managed a McDonald’s for 13 years before switching jobs to be a caterer at five John Deere cafeterias. She works long hours, takes care of her daughter and volunteers as the president of a neighborhood association. You may not think she’d have to deal with hunger. 

But Marci’s job change resulted in a pay cut, so she now needs assistance from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. 

“Considering the rising cost of food, the food bank has been such a great help,” she says. “I now have food to make my daughter lunches to take with her to school.” 

The woman waiting on you in a store, the man cutting your lawn, the elderly neighbor on a fixed income, the boy who sits next to your child in school—each may be part of the estimated 35 million Americans who must cope with “food insecurity.” They may not talk about their hunger problems, but many face enormous challenges: 

  • Not knowing where or when their next meal will come from 
  • Getting only one meal a day because it’s hard to make ends meet 
  • Not having anything to eat for a whole day, or several days at a time 
  • Feeding their children instead of themselves 

Soaring food and gas prices, lost jobs and stagnant wages mean the number of people who require food assistance is rising. 

“We’re seeing more and more people visiting food banks for the first time,” says Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, formerly known as America’s Second Harvest—a national nonprofit organization and the nation’s largest food bank network. “Demand in their food banks has risen 15% to 20% since 2007. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck. In big sections of the country, industries that had provided good wages are gone, and there aren’t enough good-paying jobs left. So, people need help.” 

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this story.