It's always in season to share your food with those less fortunate--not just Thanksgiving and Christmas. - July 1, 2016
Yesterday Charlie and I delivered 23 pounds of produce from the Garland Community Garden to the Good Samaritans of Garland. This included 8 one-gallon bags of kale, two pounds of blackberries 12 pounds of tomatoes, two one-quart bags of okra, a bag of grapes, and several bags of basil, mint and lemon grass. We encourage all gardeners to contribute fresh produce from their gardens to the various food banks and charities in our community.
Pepper plant growing in the container garden at the Good Samaritans of Garland Texas - July 2, 2016
Hunger Is the Biggest Problem--many people who have a roof over their heads are still going hungry because there is only so far a dollar can be stretched.
When we were there, we also checked up on the container garden that is being maintained by Good Samaritan volunteers and some of their homeless clients--yes we have the homeless in our midst. If you think of the homeless as being alcoholics and drug addicts, you are partially correct. However the profile for the homeless is much broader than that. For example, it also includes mother and children. Organizations like the Good Samaritans help these people to find jobs and homes. Sometimes, due to the shortage of available resources, all they can provide is food to eat and a place to clean up in the back by a water faucet.
The recession that begin in the fall of 2007 may not have touched you or your family, or you may be among the few who have recovered financial losses you may have sustained, however, there are still thousands in our DFW area who will once again tonight have no roof over their head.
Even though the homeless are often the extreme public face of inequality and food insecurity in the USA, hunger impacts many millions more people than homelessness. I first became aware of this at my 10th high school class reunion. I grew up in a small West Texas town where I mistakenly thought everyone was the same—no family was exceedingly wealthy and no family was exceedingly poor. We had no people in our community who slept on public doorsteps.
Hunger, as I learned from a classmate, was alive and well in the shadows of my hometown. My classmate told me that she often brought two slices of white bread for lunch as a ‘sandwich’ along with a thermos of water. Yes, literally bread and water was her lunch for most of the days out of each month. She always ate her lunch away from the rest of us with her younger sister.
Even more recently, right here in Garland, I visited hunger face to face on a daily basis as I was campaigning door to door in 2012. I came into people's homes and talked with them about what they wanted from political representation in Washington. It was an eye-opener for me--particularly when it comes to the needs of the elderly. For example, one man, living on Social Security, told me that to make ends meet, the last week before his check arrived he lived on peanut butter and crackers and water. He was reduced to these extremes because of his monthly pharmaceutical costs.
- 1 in 6 Americans live on incomes that put them at risk for hunger.
- Over 14 million American children rely on food banks for assistance.
- Food insecurity exists in every single county in the United States--including Dallas County.
- A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that only 11% of those requesting emergency food assistance were homeless.
- In 2011, more than 31 million children lived on incomes that qualified them for free or subsidized lunches.
[Statistics from Feeding America]
Two Primary Causes for Hunger in the USA
The two primary causes for hunger in the USA according to “Feeding America” are income inequality and food deserts. Many food banks have a large majority of their clients who have at least one employed person in the household. But after rent, mortgage and other bills are paid, there is not enough money left to provide for the household. Food deserts are areas where residents do not have access to a grocery story that provides healthy and affordable foods necessary for a healthy diet. The US Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as neighborhoods more than a mile from a grocery store in the city.
Summer is the Hungriest Season of All—especially for children
Vicki and Steven: Two hard-working volunteers from the Good Samaritans of Garland Texas.
We all know that awareness of hunger peaks during the holiday season. However, during the summer months the children who receive free lunch at school are home. Summer, in my opinion is perhaps the key season to be giving all you can to our food banks and pantries.
According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, nearly 2.3 million children receive free or reduced price, nutritionally balanced lunches at school each day under the National School Lunch Program, but only about 12% of these children have access to the Summer Food Service Programs during the summer. I’m happy to report that The City of Garland sponsors a Children's Summer Nutrition Program in partnership with area churches, recreation centers and apartments. Interested parties should call 972-205-3300 to discuss program requirements. We still have two months of summer left. Even one day is too long for a child in the USA to go hungry. Two months is unconscionable.
It's helpful to deal with the problem of hunger at the micro-local level
It's an overwhelming problem that we have over 620,000 children in Dallas County living below the poverty line -- thousands of whom go to bed hungry at night. The researchers of that same study found that 183,000 children, enough to fill the Dallas Cowboy Stadium more than twice, are not getting enough food. (Source: The Children's Medical Center Annual Study of 2011).
A good starting point for dealing with the problem is to ask: What can I do to alleviate the hunger of one or two people in my community? Will the 12 pounds of tomatoes that Charlie and I delivered yesterday feed 183,000 children? Of course not, but it will help to provide nutrition for one meal for approximately 24 people. If you multiply this effort by all of us who can afford to share food--not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but year 'round you can see how far those efforts would go.
If I were queen every classroom in the Garland ISD would be in charge of a garden plot growing edibles to be given to our local food banks and charities.
Call your local city government today and ask what you can do to help alleviate hunger in your community. Together it is possible to eliminate hunger in the USA and the world. The best starting place is right where you are. The best time is right now.
Again, if you live in my local area of Garland, Texas:
The City of Garland sponsors a Children's Summer Nutrition Program in partnership with area churches, recreation centers and apartments. Interested parties should call 972-205-3300 to discuss program requirements. We still have two months of summer left. Even one day is too long for a child in the USA to go hungry. Two months is unconscionable.