The issue of hunger is often seems too big to address. But don't forget that each person can make a difference in their neighborhoods and cities. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Get schooled. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Take time to learn about the 42.2 million Americans — 13 million of them children — living in food-insecure households. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a state in which "consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year." Love reading? Check out one of these: Sweet Charity by Janet Poppendieck, Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan or The Stop by Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis. Want to watch a movie instead? Check out A Place at the Table. Here are some additional sites to get you thinking:
United Methodist Women , EndHunger.org and FeedingAmerica.org
2. Hold a specific food/supply drive. Hunger is on everyone's mind aroun
d the holidays — in particular Thanksgiving and Christmas. But many pantries need food and other necessities all year long. Contact your local food bank and inquire about their seasonal needs. Many food banks look for baby formula, diapers, feminine hygiene products, ethnic foods and other items beyond canned goods.
3. Volunteer regularly or off-season. Food banks need assistance year-round. Contact your local bank and see how you might help. Sometimes they could benefit from specialized skills beyond stocking donated goods.
4. Become an advocate for food-insecure persons. About one in four Americans depends on USDA food and nutrition assistance programs to help feed themselves and their families. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps provide families with basic nutritional needs to temporarily get them through hard times. Organizations like SNAP provide national assistance to more than 46 million people each year. Programs like these help people get back on their feet, and are critical to solving hunger in our country. Ensuring that everyone who is eligible has access to SNAP benefits is a key means of providing more meals to more people nationwide.
Consider supporting organizations like Feeding America, which advocates for programs that protect people facing hunger through a policy staff based in Washington, D.C., and through their Hunger Action Center, a massive online grassroots advocacy center. The Hunger Action Center consists of an online community of more than 150,000 people who help champion hunger-relief programs at the federal, state and local levels.
5. Become an ally. Dispel stereotypes about hunger and poverty. Educate yourself and others and speak up when you hear people saying false things about hunger and poverty. Help dispel the stigma and misconceptions about hunger.
6. Pray. Remember those who do not always have access to food and basic necessities on a regular basis. Seek guidance as you find ways to be a part of the solution to hunger locally and globally.
7. Support grassroots movements. You've heard the saying, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." As large an epidemic as hunger is, it is possible to address hunger in your community by supporting grassroots efforts led by people just like you. Look for ways to build a strong local food economy by supporting farmers' markets, co-ops and community gardens that help communities control their food supplies.
What additional tips would you add to solve hunger in your community?
Sophia Agtarap is a transplant to the South from the west coast. Her background in education and digital media has helped her be a shepherd of sorts to digital immigrants, and she enjoys working with diverse groups to help them better understand today's communication tools and uses for ministry and outreach.
Join the Rethink Church community on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing dialogue around church happening everywhere. Learn more at at RethinkChurch.org.