I write this with the idea in mind that one strong voice can make a loud and long-lasting statement. September was Hunger Action Month and many of you may have noticed the status updates on Facebook, Twitter feeds and various other social media outlets showing support for this movement. One thing I’m sure you have noticed is all of the talk surrounding the House passing a bill that could ultimately cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), which would result in more than 1.5 billion meals lost in 2014 for Americans everywhere who struggle with food insecurity. “Food Insecurity” by definition means, “Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways” (Feeding America, 2009). As a nation our “food insecurity” rate is 16.4 percent which means 50,120,000 Americans face the reality of true hunger every day, here in Macon County that number is 15.9 percent or 5,350 residents (30.6 percent of children in Macon County or 1,930 food insecure children).
When will we put an end to food insecurity? Truth is we may never, but rest assured there is something we can all can do to help raise awareness for those who find themselves struggling with food insecurity. On Oct. 11, the First United Methodist Youth group is leading the “Hunger Challenge” as part of their participation in the “Stop Hunger Now” mission to package meals on Nov. 2. Already many others are participating, including other Methodist churches in Macon County, members of the FHS football team, students at MVI and FHS, and various community members. We dare you to try living on $3 per day per person for three days (or you may choose another three days). Help us raise awareness of the issues surrounding hunger and take the opportunity to learn more about the “Hunger Challenge” campaign by contacting CareNet or stop by Franklin First United Methodist Church to pick up your information packet, complete with challenge guidelines and recipes to help you along the way.
I plan to record my daily consumption, journal about the experience and on Oct. 13, I hope to have gained a complete understanding of the daily struggles families here in Macon County face, from food choices and availability to experiencing what true hunger really feels like. My hope is to carry this experience and knowledge gained from the challenge not only in my role with CareNet but also into my everyday life, so that I may become a stronger advocate for childhood hunger and policy change for Americans everywhere.
The information presented before you is to draw awareness to the issue many Americans and some of our very own community members have had to call their “norm,” it is by no means an attempt to mock any individual’s circumstances or to belittle the issue at hand. We realize it’s near impossible to fully comprehend all of the difficult decisions families face each day surrounding hunger. We are also aware that at the conclusion of this challenge, unlike millions of Americans, we will be able to return to “our norm” which means we completely understand that we are undertaking this by choice for three days while others do not have that choice.
If you are interested in learning more about hunger in America, we encourage you to visit the FeedingAmerica.org website and if you are truly invested in the opportunity to learn more about the issue surrounding hunger, as well as your fellow Americans who consider food insecurity a daily obstacle then we encourage you to take the “Hunger Challenge” with us. Together we can solve hunger.
Shaina D. Adkins
Macon County Care Network