Hunger Action Month and Outreach

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mary was a professional, with a good job and a middle class lifestyle. Then one day, one of the ripple effects of the great recession hit her hard. Her employer cut her hours, causing Mary to struggle with a reduced paycheck. Somehow, she managed to stay afloat by cutting back on food. However, she soon faced a personal and financial crisis. By the time a friend recommended that Mary contact Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry (Outreach), her cabinet was bare and her health had deteriorated.
While this may not be the most dramatic story of hunger, it is a very real one faced over and over again in communities throughout the country, a fact borne out by the results of a recent study sponsored by Feeding America, our country’s largest organization dedicated to hunger. The 2014 Hunger Study, released during mid-August, shows the staggering personal costs of hunger and reveals how many of our fellow citizens are forced to juggle their budgets, cutting back on medical care, skipping utility payments and other basic life necessities in order to keep their family fed.
Unfortunately, Polk County is not immune to hunger. Another study by Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap, a yearly survey of hunger in the United States on a county-by-county basis, shows that over 27 percent of children and 14 percent of the overall population in Polk County alone are ‘food insecure’ and may not know where their next meal will come from. This is a tragedy right here in our small community.
September is Hunger Action Month and Outreach is sponsoring a series of activities and events to raise awareness of hunger and to mobilize action against hunger in our community. Outreach will kick-off the month by hosting a free simple supper and showing of the hunger documentary, ‘A Place at the Table’ on September 5 at 6:00 p.m at the Polk County Middle School.
I’m joining Outreach and participating in Hunger Action Month this September and I urge you to participate as well. The Bulletin will follow six of our community members who have volunteered to take the SNAP Challenge and spend a week living on the average daily food stamp benefit (about $4 per day). Local participants will share their experiences about the difficult choices they have to make in articles that will appear in the Bulletin throughout the month.
Tuesday, September 30, at 5:30 p.m. a Hunger Forum will be held at the Outreach offices (134 White Drive, Columbus). Groups from all over the County will meet to discuss what can be done to solve hunger in our community going forward. I encourage you to attend that forum.
Today, you will find an orange calendar inserted into the Bulletin that shows thirty ways you can participate and help fight hunger right here at home. Please review the calendar and commit to educating yourself and to taking action to eliminate hunger in our area. Whether you decide to start a food drive in your neighborhood, feed a hungry family or participate in the SNAP Challenge yourself, there are so many ways you make a difference. A little effort can go a long way.
For more information or a copy of the 2014 Hunger Study visit or call Outreach at 828-894-2988.

Betty Ramsey is the publisher of the Tryon Daily Bulletin. Her email address is

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