By Tom Richardson
September 26th, 2010
Reprint Courtesy of The Davis Enterprise
September brings about another change in season, the days have begun to shorten, the harvests will begin to slow down, and schools have resumed. September is also Feeding America's “Hunger Action Month,” an effort to mobilize the public to end hunger in the United States.
This is the month where we should be increasing our awareness of those in need, learning about local efforts to fight hunger including the Food Bank of Yolo County, and seeking support from you to take action.
As we are all painfully aware, the economy has suffered immensely over the past couple of years. Locally the unemployment rate exceeds the national average, and where people do have work, hours and or pay have been reduced. We are getting by with less, and in many cases prioritizing our expenditures.
Many people, especially those on fixed incomes, must decide between food, medicine or shelter if they can't afford everything. This is not new, but it is much more prevalent today, with a much larger demographic. In fact, the latest report for households that required food assistance was 12.2 percent.
Imagine that; more than one in 10 households has either gone to a food pantry or eaten a meal at an emergency kitchen. These are not programs set up by the government; they were created because of people's actions rather than talk.
We are very fortunate in this country, as many organizations have been created to meet the needs of those less fortunate with grace and compassion. Many began as dreams of regular everyday people that “saw a need” and filled it. This is the case of the Food Bank of Yolo County, which began as a food pantry in Davis 40 years ago.
The mission of the food bank is “To alleviate hunger and malnutrition in Yolo County.” Over the years, the food bank has expanded its operations as the need of those we support has changed. The Food Bank supports nearly 70 different agencies within the county including food pantries, food closets, and other charitable organizations. The food bank acts as a central clearinghouse for donated food and passes on the savings to others: the Food Bank knows how to stretch a dollar.
In the past few years, the food bank has expanded its operations to include programs on site and across the county. The Movable Market is a way in which fresh produce is delivered to low-income families at specific sites throughout the county. in Rural Food Delivery, 25-pound boxes of food are delivered to low-income people in rural parts of the county.
Friday's Table delivers fresh produce to five sites that distribute it to individuals. There are many other programs, including cooking classes, nutrition education and gardening classes offered at the food bank.
When the economy turns around, and it will, we will continue to see a need to keep people fed. In the meantime, as we grow our awareness of hunger in our midst through Hunger Action Month across the nation, consider what action you can take to make a difference in the lives of those in need.
Visit http://www.foodbankyc.org for more ideas on how you can take action.
— Tom Richardson is the president of the Board of Directors for the Food Bank of Yolo County