Bulletin to share SNAP Challenge stories during Hunger Action Month

Published 10:00 pm Friday, September 4, 2015

By Betty Ramsey

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, 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 ne
cessities 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 asking all community members to participate in a month-long food drive to help stock the pantry shelves to serve our neighbors in need. Please consider joining Outreach by donating a bag of shelf-stable boxed food or canned goods today. You can drop your food off at Outreach in Columbus (134 White Drive) or in Tryon at the Bulletin office (16 North Trade Street). In Saluda, there will be a collection box at Manna Cabanna, in Mill Spring a collection box will be located at the Mill Spring Ag Store and in Green Creek, you can drop off food items at Cool Mama’s Bakery.


I’m joining Outreach and participating in Hunger Action Month this September and I urge you to do the same. The Bulletin will follow three community members who have volunteered to take the SNAP Challenge and who will spend a week living on the average daily food stamp benefit (approximately $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.


Please commit to educating yourself about local hunger this September and to taking action to eliminate hunger in our community. 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.