The sun is shining bright in Seattle and we’re gearing up for summer. As we start daydreaming about backyard barbecues and trips to the beach, the United Way team is hard at work building our effort to fight summer hunger.
One in five kids is at risk of hunger in our community. The number of Latino and African American children struggling with hunger is even higher. In King County there are 99,000 kids who take part in the free and reduced-price lunch program for low-income families. …
I have a confession……I love AmeriCorps. Like traveling in Barcelona, sipping red wine, and watching West Wing, AmeriCorps is a passion, a hobby, and something I treasure. Over the last decade I’ve served as in AmeriCorps, mentored dozens of National Service members, watched Alums grow into community leaders, and been dazzled by the impact this program has on our community. Nationally, 75,000 AmeriCorps members will serve at 15,000 locations and mobilize 4 million volunteers. Right here is WA more than 13,000 are strengthening our schools, non profits, and faith based organizations AmeriCorps is high impact, high quality, and high return on investment.
Positives aside, the numbers are alarming. 50 million Americans, including 1 in 4 kids, are at risk of hunger. 53 percent of babies born in the US rely on the WIC program. It doesn’t take 800 anti-hunger advocates and thought leaders to tell you why……it’s about education, jobs, income inequality, and poverty. This national travesty will not be solved until we the people stand up, step out and don’t retreat. The challenge ahead is how we organize our work, leverage resources, and build our movement to feed hungry families today while aggressively advocating for the policies needed to tackle these HUGE social and economic issues.
Last week leaders from across the country came to Seattle for the National Conference on Ending Family & Youth Homelessness.
Throughout the presentations, workshops and networking events one thing became clear to me…. our field is getting smarter about what it takes to end homelessness. We have data, tools, policies and partnerships that we didn’t have when most Ten Year Plans were developed. These new tools are the catalyst for moving the needle on family and youth homelessness. To be successful we must push harder than ever before, become more accountable for results and make big changes in the way we do business.
A report released last week by the Food Research and Action Center shows dismal participation in this program – “in summer 2011 (the program) only fed one in seven of the low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch Program during the regular 2010-2011 school year”. Right here in Washington State only 9.6% of eligible children participated in July 2011 – we rank 40th in the nation in terms of participation. Tight budgets, reductions to summer school, and lack of awareness are leading barriers to increasing participation in the Summer Feeding Programs – but we can turn this around.
Today I watched a documentary on Hunger in America at the Seattle International Film Festival called Finding North. The film did an excellent job of highlighting what hunger relief advocates and hungry families know – hunger in America is real, it’s growing, and the impact is costing us billions of dollars each year. Perhaps more importantly, the film highlights the role public policy plays in creating the environment that has led to hunger, sustains hunger, and has the ability to end hunger in the United States.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Collect and bag non-perishable food items (please don’t include items that have expired or are in glass containers)
2. Place the bag by your mailbox and it will be delivered to a local food bank.
This is the 20th year that the Letter Carriers…
As we approach the end of Hunger Action Week I’m filled with mixed emotions. On one hand I’m thrilled with the number of community members, local leaders, agencies and businesses taking a stand against hunger. On the other – I worry that next week our community will move on. On to our own dinner tables, on to the next cause and on to our busy lives.
Yesterday the New York Times reported a surge in the number of kids receiving free or low cost meals. Nationally an astonishing 52% of 4th graders are receiving subsidized meals. In some King County school districts, more than 70% of kids are eligible for these programs.
Did you know that thousands of people visit food banks in King County every single day just to get by? By the end of 2010 they were
visited over 200,000 times each month. We can all do our part to make sure our food banks are fully stocked to meet this increased demand. The
more who get involved, the better, which is why we have added a Food Drive to the Day of Caring on September 16th which has signed up 11,000 volunteers to participate! We ask, in addition to graciously volunteering time and resources, that people also spare a bit of non-perishable food for those in need.