Millions of people everyday have to make hard choices most of us cannot imagine having to make. They must choose between buying food, paying for shelter, getting medical care or medicine. They do not have the luxury of cabinets, refrigerators and freezers with food in them every month. Are you ready to MAD?
When chasing down where the money goes each month, families all know the second largest expense is food (right behind housing). Everyday 30% of families have to make a choice between food and medical care or medicine.
While we see television and internet commercials for overseas hunger problems, what is not advertised are the hungry people in the United States. More than 35 million Americans go without sufficient food because they do not have enough money and resources.
12.5 million children go hungry everyday.
As many as 25% of school children will only get one meal today. It will be served in a school cafeteria.
Many of the soup kitchens still in operation serve as many as 1,000 meals per week. One quarter (250) of those meals will be served to a child. Soup kitchens need volunteers all year, but especially during holidays and winter.
96 billion pounds of food are wasted yearly.
We throw away enough food to feed…
48 million people for a year
Remember what you were told when you did not clean your plate of veggies? How many people are hungry? Hmm…
Make A Difference
You can absolutely make a difference in the hunger situation.
1. Locate the nearest organization which supports the hungry. Try places like:
- Food banks or pantries
- Homeless and abuse shelters
- Soup kitchens (community, military or faith-based)
What do they need?
2. Volunteer. Even organizations with plenty of supplies do not have enough hands to distribute food.
- Serve food.
- Deliver food to shut-ins and senior centers.
- Pick up food from retail centers.
3. Donate food. Go through your pantry. Dried and canned food you have had more than a month can go to feed the hungry. Only shop by the week? Pick up three food items per person in your household to donate. Do you know what to buy?
- Peanut butter and preserves
- Canned meat and fish
- Canned fruit and vegetables
- Tomato products
- Oatmeal and cereal
- Baby food and formula
- Powdered and evaporated milk
- Flour and sugar
- Powdered drink mix
- Dried fruit
- Juice (not cocktail) and nectar
Think of the ingredients you use at home, not just corn and green beans. Think about good sources of vitamins and minerals, like mushrooms, olives, salmon, asparagus, spinach, banana chips, yogurt covered fruits, apricots, pineapple,… Look at your own shopping list for ideas.
4. Host or support a food drive. Get your friends, colleagues, teammates, family and random strangers to donate canned goods or non-perishable food items. Deliver them to a distribution center.
5. Purchase and give gift cards. Homeless people have no place to store canned goods. Give them a gift certificate to a fast food restaurant. Carry one in your wallet. When you see someone homeless, be spontaneous and give.
6. Donate money. Food banks need to give perishable goods to families with children. Money buys fresh milk, meat, bread, eggs, cheese, fruit and vegetables. With a discount, a little money goes a long way to curbing hunger.
7. Make a meal. Do you know someone who struggles with hunger? Make a meal. Invite them to eat with you or bring it to them.
MAD for Hunger
Most of us cannot appreciate what it feels like to go hungry for a day, much less for weeks at a time. Hunger robs a body of its natural defenses, making the choice between food and medical care even harder to make. Hunger can deplete bones of calcium, causing osteoporosis, hair loss, tooth loss and decay in very young people. Hunger causes fatigue.
Ever had an energy or candy bar to pick yourself up in the middle of a long day? What if there was nothing for a snack? Imagine going home to nothing to eat at all. Make a difference. You will appreciate what you have to eat as the blessing it is.
Do you MAD for hunger now? When was the last time you donated to a food bank or homeless shelter to provide food for the hungry? Can you commit to Make A Difference for hunger this week?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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