This weekend a friend and I went on a road trip to New Orleans and back. Our primary reason for going was to relax, listen to great music, and above all enjoy their absolutely delicious food. We’re not into the whole gastronomy movement of foodies at the moment, but if you put a plate of good barbecue and specialty cocktails in front of us we light up like Christmas trees. All of our “foodie” experiences got me thinking about how lucky the both of us were to enjoy such an experience.
About five years ago I traveled with a group of friends to Denver. We chose to spend our week volunteering in the community in various capacities: spending time with people at a senior care center, leading children’s activities at a summer camp, and lending a hand at their food bank. One of my favorite experiences in Denver was working in the food bank garage at the end of town, dividing up food so that it could be sent to local shelters for the hungry.
19 million Americans( 6.3 percent) live in extreme poverty. This means their family’s cash income is less than half of the poverty line, or less than about $11,000 a year for a family of four (http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm). And something that struck home for me after my fantastic trip: For one in eight Louisianans, hunger is a reality (http://no-hunger.org/AboutHunger.aspx).
The past few days made me more aware than ever of the availability of food for some and the lack of food for others. Almost six years ago, New Orleans was in ruins. The people were plundering the streets looking for shelter, supplies, and food. It has truly made an incredible recovery over the last few years, but it certainly needed the help of non-profit organizations and generous donors to assist in its recovery.
I urge you to take interest in the sad reality of our fellow Americans who can’t feed themselves or their families. Find a food bank in your area; they’d be more than willing to take a helping hand. I’ve volunteered with food banks and soup kitchens in the past and will certainly do so again in the future.
Take a look at this informative article on the budgets cuts that will affect the hungry, “Many States Cutting TANF Benefits Harshly Despite High Unemployment and Unprecedented Need” by Liz Schott and LaDonna Pavetti, Ph.D.