The ever-growing ranks of families turning to America's food banks is a stark reality, and one that should not be ridiculed, especially when it comes to the 17 million children who struggle with hunger each year. Instead, we must respond with the compassion, steadfast resolve, and solidarity that have always fueled our great nation.
Occasionally, prominent voices criticize the work of the nation's charitable feeding agencies and raise questions about the data on hunger provided by reputable sources such as the United States Department of Agriculture. We know, however, that the problem of domestic hunger is very real, and we readily cite countless stories and statistics from across the nation to prove it. When those public figures offer skeptical statements about the state of hunger in America, we at Feeding America are reminded that hunger truly is an invisible problem, and that we must continue our important work to raise awareness and drive action.
Feeding America and our network of food banks serve more than 37 million Americans each year. These are people who seek out assistance because of events beyond their control--an unexpected illness, the loss of a job, or a natural disaster, for example--and turn to us for temporary help while they struggle to regain stability in their lives.
While it is easy to turn a blind eye to these people, and presume that determination is all that is required for self-sufficiency, we know better. The hard thing to do--realizing that millions of our fellow Americans are in need--is the right thing to do. The nation's charitable feeding agencies, our nonprofit and corporate partners, government agencies, and thousands of private citizens all come together to sustain a truly marvelous support system.
This is an amazing nation. In response to uninformed opinions, I encourage you to learn more about hunger by visiting:
- Our website, feedingamerica.org, where you can read the results of our recent study Hunger in America 2010;
- The website of your local food bank, which you find using the locator on our website; and
- The USDA's website, which includes data on food insecurity in the United States.
Then, decide to be a part of the solution by raising your voice and offering your support, locally or nationally. Together, we can overcome the closed minds and narrow viewpoints that stand in the way of true progress against hunger in the United States.
Follow Vicki B. Escarra on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vickiescarra