This month, the Vermont Foodbank, together with the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks, has been working to mobilize all 50 states in an effort to bring an end to hunger. This initiative, designated Hunger Action Month, is designed to raise awareness of the fact that 48 million Americans, including 15 million children, are food insecure which translates into children being hungry and not knowing where their next meal is coming from. It asks people to consider how it must feel to live with an empty stomach, putting a healthy life and a promising future at serious risk. Nearly half of households served by the Feeding America network include someone that’s in either fair or poor health
What’s more, there are indications that hunger and poverty run even deeper than the official numbers suggest. In fact, as many as one in five kids may not have enough to eat. Thankfully, many Vermont schools provide nutritious meals to students who are low-income during the school year, but in many parts of the state, it's still a challenge in the summer.
John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank, says “We believe it’s important that the people we serve have access to enough healthy food to reach their full potential; especially our children, who cannot grow, succeed or learn on an empty stomach.”
Rob Meehan, director of the Chittenden County Emergency Food Shelf, told me that they’re seeing families struggling to put food on the table who are using a variety of coping strategies to deal with hunger such as watering down food, purchasing cheap, unhealthy foods or skipping meals to make available food dollars stretch as far as possible. In too many instances, parents or guardians are going without food themselves so that their children can eat
And Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, who spends much of her time on the road, visiting food banks, food pantries, meal programs and meeting people who are facing hunger, has seen firsthand the anguish that food insecurity and hunger can cause. She says, “It’s always heartbreaking to meet a mother or father who fears that they will not be able to feed their children. They know that their children cannot reach their full potential if they don’t have enough to eat.”