You grabbed a cup of coffee for breakfast on your way out the door and worked through lunch. Now with uncomfortable bubbling and loud rumbling your stomach is reminding you just how unhappy it is but it’s still hours until dinnertime.
Thinking about how hungry you are makes it hard to keep your mind on work.
You want a candy bar, a burger, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Anything to satisfy the demanding growling of an empty stomach. That’s what hunger feels like after a few hours.
But what if hunger was your constant companion?
For nearly 48 million Americans it’s a daily struggle just to get enough to eat.
That means they have to eat less or skip meals entirely.
They buy the cheapest food they can which is often not very nutritious.
The adults miss meals so the kids don’t have to.
They’re food insecure.
That’s what hunger looks like in America.
And yet close to 40% of the food produced in this country goes to waste.
Something’s wrong. Very wrong.
Sure, there are food banks to help the hungry. And my guess is that plenty of us donate a few sacks of groceries a couple of times a year or maybe even serve a meal at a shelter once in a while. Those are good gestures, but food banks and soup kitchens aren’t enough to solve the problem. And yes, I know that many are on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Some people get help from local churches, synagogues, or mosques too.
I live in a small rural Tennessee community where there are two food banks doing the best they can. The needs are great and the amount of food available isn’t sufficient — which means that every four months people can go in and get a bag of groceries. Every. Four. Months. Sit with that for a minute. . . Every. Four. Months.
Since this blog focuses on innovative, creative solutions instead of just describing problems, I decided to dig a little deeper into the issue of hunger. What I discovered was some pretty amazing people doing some pretty incredible things.
Back in 2011 Ben Simon and a group of friends at the University of Maryland saw trays of perfectly good leftover food being tossed out every day in the school cafeteria. They asked the dining hall manager if the food could be donated instead of heading to a landfill. The answer was “Yes” and the Food Recovery Network was born. Today this student movement to fight hunger is in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Last year the Food Recovery Network reached a milestone of over two million pounds of food rescued and distributed to those in need. That’s nearly two million meals provided for hungry people.
FRN’s efforts do three important things:
feeds hungry people by rescuing food that would otherwise be tossed out
impacts the issue of global warming by reducing food wastage emissions from landfills
provides a simple model for addressing hunger and environmental issues that has an immediate, positive impact
City Harvest in New York City has been around since the early eighties.Their program collects millions pounds of excess, nutritious food every year from supermarkets, manufacturers, farmers markets, and restaurants in the city. to our neighbors in need, we support our local communities and reduce the environmental impact of food that would otherwise go to waste. They take care of neighbors in need by delivering free food to 500 , and other
OK, besides donating to a food bank (a good thing to do!) what else can you to help hungry people? How can you do something about good food ending up in a landfill? Click here for a step-by-step instructions to start a food rescue organization in your town.
Do you know about a great food rescue program in your community? Please share in the comments section.
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Bonnie Pond is the founder of the 10,000 Butterflies Project and author of The Power of Three: How to be Happy and Get What You Want in Life (Without Doing Anything Illegal, Immoral, or Unethical) and Unlock Your Creativity: 30 Days to a More Creative YOU!