Grrrrr — that growl is the sound of a scary predator, but not one with coarse fur and sharp claws. It is the growl of the empty stomach of someone who is hungry. This predator can not only take your life but also your dignity as you endure the shame of not being to provide the most basic necessity of life for yourself and your family. Food!
Hunger here in America rarely looks like the pictures of starvation that we have seen from second and third world countries. Instead our hungry are often called “food insecure.” Tennessee is listed as the state with the fourth highest food insecurity rate.
USDA defines “food insecurity” as the lack of access to enough food for all household members. For me, this definition almost makes it worse because it makes hunger less easy to identify. Stealthier! We potentially can unknowingly be rubbing shoulders with hungry people right in our own communities — our neighbors. We pass hungry people in the grocery store as they are picking out the few items their money can afford, knowing these meager groceries won’t last them until their next paycheck. At our jobs, our very co-workers could be sitting in the cube right next to us, without a lunch and worrying how they are going to provide dinner to their family that night. At school our children could be sitting next to the student who hasn’t had dinner the night before, nor breakfast that morning because there simply wasn’t any food in his or her house. Hunger is all around us; often hiding in plain sight.
This formidable predator effects 1 in 6 people right here in America. Worst yet, a recent article from the Washington Post cites that over the last 14 years the proportion of people over 60 who are hungry has doubled!!! The baby boomer population as of 2016 is estimated to be 74.1 million people. Many of them are food insecure and their numbers are not declining.
While we can continue to cite statistics in America, we already know people are hungry right here in Williamson County. At GraceWorks, a whopping 47% of our programming resources goes toward services that address hunger; namely the food pantry, the student Fuel Bag program and mobile food pantries. September is Hunger Action Month, when we are asked to stand together against hunger on a national scale.
I am proud to say that because of you, every month is hunger action month at GraceWorks. However in honor of national Hunger Action Month, you can help further address hunger by spreading awareness and then by continuing your financial giving, your volunteering, your community and church food drives, and of course your personal prayers for those who are hungry.
I have often said, no one in America should be hungry and certainly no one in Williamson County —‚ and definitely not on our watch! Thank you for joining us in chasing hunger on out of here with a fiercer growl than that of any hungry stomach.
Your fellow crusader against hunger,
Valencia A. Breckenridge