We write this blog because we love food and all things connected with it, as you can tell from the variety of articles you find here at Lukewarm Legumes. But Tiffany, Tim, and I are also very community minded. Combining our love for all things food and our community mindedness, we decided to partner with Feeding America, a well established and highly respected nonprofit organization dedicated to relieving hunger in the United States. Although we say ‘America’ where we are really talking about is the United States.
Yes, we are talking about the United States, the land of plenty. Normally when we in the United States hear someone speaking of hungry people, we think they must be talking about some third world country. But hunger is a significant issue for many people right here in the United States, right in our own back yards.
I work with a nonprofit organization in Houston, Texas which has programs to help low income individuals & families and our offices are located in the poorest part of the city. For this area especially, hunger is no stranger. But neither is it a stranger to the greater Houston area.
Did you know that hunger may not be a stranger to your community either? You can find out about hunger in your area by using a very helpful resource available on the website of Feeding America. After visiting this site I learned that the food insecurity rate for my state (Texas) is 17.8%. For my county (Harris) the food insecurity rate is 18.1%. But what is worse, food insecurity is even greater when only children are measured, which jumps to 27.2% for Harris County. That’s well over 1 in 4 children in my area who are food insecure.
“What is child food insecurity and what does it look like in America? Food insecurity refers to the USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food insecure children are those children living in households who are experiencing food insecurity.” (from the Feeding America website)
Feeding America partners with Food Banks all across the country, 202 of them in all. These Food Banks and Feeding America partner to: secure food; raise funds; distribute food; share best practices; and advocate & inspire.
The Food Bank partner with Feeding America for the Houston area is The Houston Food Bank. Through their network of almost 500 hunger relief agencies and programs, The Houston Food Bank feeds more than 137,000 people a week.
This past weekend through the introduction of a contact at Feeding America, I was the guest of The Houston Food Bank for a special event. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, HoustonPBS and Walmart held a community screening at the Houston Food Bank, to showcase a PBS primetime television special called Growing Hope Against Hunger and provide educational opportunities for families around the issue of hunger in America.
Growing Hope Against Hunger introduces a new Muppet named Lily whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger and features Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley. Highlights of the video are available on YouTube.
Organizations like Feeding America and The Houston Food Bank as well as programs like the new PBS Sesame Street special Growing Hope Against Hunger are helping raise awareness about food insecurity and doing a lot towards eliminating it in the United States, but there is still a lot that needs to be done. They can’t do it alone; You can help.
We at Lukewarm Legumes encourage you to learn about food insecurity in your area. We also encourage you to contact your local food bank and get involved. You can locate a food bank near you on the website of Feeding America.
You could also visit the website for Feeding America and the PBS website Growing Hope Against Hunger to learn more then arrange to have an awareness meeting at your work, club, or place of worship about the issue of food insecurity.
Finally, we encourage you to consider things you can do to help eliminate food insecurity such as are listed on the blog Planned Resilience.
The 11 things you can do to eliminate food insecurity in America from that blog are:
- Call and/or write your senator/congressman/governor/ the president, etc., and tell them how important you think this problem is. Over the past few decades, programs to help feed children and those in need (e.g., WIC, food stamps, free school lunch programs) have been gutted by the powers that be. Maybe it’s time to get some of those back. Feeding kids (and providing them medical care and an education) is one of the most important things we can do to ensure a bright future for this country.
- Volunteer at your local food bank.
- Donate canned goods (and/or cash) to your local food bank.
- Support homeless programs (e.g., state and local, secular and religious).
- Plant an extra row or two of veggies in your garden for the hungry (e.g., the food pantry).
- If you know someone who is food insecure, or just having difficulty due to illness, a death in the family, loss of work, arrival of a new baby, or what ever, make a freezable meal and take it over to them. Ask if you can help them in other ways. For example, buy them a weeks worth of groceries.
- If you know someone who would like to learn how to garden, invite them to your garden and teach them. Share some land with them if they don’t have any. Give them your extra seeds, or garden tools that still work but you don’t use.
- If you know someone who doesn’t know how to cook, invite them over and teach them. Teach them how to fix a meal and then share it with them.
- If you know someone who would like to learn to preserve food, invite them over and teach them. Send them home with preserved food.
- If you see a homeless person on the same street corner on your way to work (e.g., frequently), make it a habit of making them a sack lunch (breakfast, dinner, snack, etc.) and give it to them.
- Support organizations like Feeding America and The Houston Food Bank.