September is Hunger Action Month, a national call to action to mobilize people to help end hunger in America. Nearly 29 Million Americans, or 1 in 6, struggle with hunger and often do so in silence. There is a national website to raise awareness sponsored by Feeding America www.hungeractionmonth.org .
Recently, the Food Bank of Central New York conducted a regional research study with support from Mathematica Policy Research. This study focused on an eleven county region in Central and Northern New York. Significant findings of this study:
• Since 2006, the number of people turning to emergency food programs increased 82%.
• 73% of households who access emergency food programs are food insecure, meaning they do not always know where their next meal will come from. 32% are very food insecure, causing a reduction in food intake by family members.
• 37 % of emergency food program recipients are under the age of eighteen. 13% are under five years old.
• 69% of households served have annual incomes at or below the federal poverty level.
In August 2012, Roots & Wings Emergency Food Pantry served the highest number of households in a one month period for its entire 14 year history, according to Kathy Darrah, Roots & Wings Food Pantry Coordinator.
August 2012 numbers served:
• 512 families
• 1683 family members
• 25,245 meals served
“Increased demand combined with dwindling state and federal funding streams are causing financial stress for emergency food pantries across our region” states Melinda Mandeville, Roots & Wings Program Director.
Locally, Commerce Chenango is coordinating a county-wide food drive, in honor of Patriots Day. Food collection sites are located around the county. Commerce Chenango is partnering with Roots & Wings to distribute food donated during September to Food Pantries across the County. For more information about how you can get involved:
Commerce Chenango: 334-1400
Roots & Wings: 336-7897