Food. We all have to have it. It is a basic need, required by all humans. We have to eat to survive. We have to eat before we can focus on any of the other tasks that we need or want to accomplish each day. Sadly, many among us struggle with hunger on a regular basis.
One in five households throughout Coastal Georgia struggles with food insecurity. Food insecurity, not knowing when or from where the next meal will come, leads to more than just a growling stomach. In households facing food insecurity, families are often forced to choose between food and utilities or food and rent. Often food is purchased with whatever money is left after rent is paid, and utilities go unpaid or underpaid. This becomes a problem when utilities are disconnected, leaving the family with no way of preparing food.
The statistics for childhood hunger in our area are even more stark. One in four children face food insecurity on a regular basis. Hunger in children can cause behavioral issues at school as well as traumatic stress which has been shown to have lifelong consequences. Missing education opportunities due to behavioral issues and the long-term negative health effects of hunger and resulting stress cause children from food insecure homes to be more likely to continue the cycles of poverty in adulthood.
An often forgotten group suffering the effects of hunger and food insecurity is our ever-growing senior population. One in five seniors deals with food insecurity on a regular basis. Many frequently find themselves faced with the choice of food or much needed medicines. Even with assistance from programs designed to help with medical costs, the price tags often become overwhelming for those who are living on a fixed income.
Hunger, the lack of a basic human need being met, is not an issue that should exist in modern America. Children should not have their future determined by something so far out of their control. Parents should never have to choose between feeding their children or keeping them warm. Our seniors should never have to miss doses of life-preserving medicines just to ensure they will have dinner later.
The good news is that this is an easily solved issue. And, we can solve it on a community level, then watch the impact ripple through the nation. November 10-18 is Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, so now is the perfect time to take action and be a part of the solution to ending hunger in our community.
The best way to help end hunger is to make a donation to an organization that is working to feed families throughout the area. America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia serves thousands of Coastal Georgians each year. Manna House serves thousands of Liberty County residents each year. United Way of the Coastal Empire funds programs and runs the Backpack Buddies Program to help combat hunger, as well. Monetary donations allow these organizations to purchase large quantities of food at very low cost. Funding also allows educational programming that demonstrates how to prepare healthy, low-cost meals.
You can also give through the donation of your time. Volunteering is a great way to help organizations providing food assistance by helping to pack meal bags and to deliver meals. You can contact America’s Second Harvest, United Way of the Coastal Empire, Liberty County, Manna House, Seniors Citizens Inc., or many other agencies for more information on available volunteer opportunities and how to sign up.
If you know someone who is dealing with food insecurity, there are many resources available in Liberty County. Manna House, located at 244 W. Memorial Drive, is open from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Many churches also hold regular food pantries. Joseph’s House at Live Oak Church is open each Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. United Way of the Coastal Empire sponsors mobile food pantries many times throughout the year.
Upcoming events are scheduled for Nov. 20 and Dec. 19. Emergency food assistance is also available at the UWCE, Liberty County office from 1:30 to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.