Sep 29, 2009

Feeding the hungry mouths of America

by Katie Bell

A delectable sourdough bread bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with sweet tea is a favorite meal for Liberty students to partake of at Lynchburg’s local Panera Bread. The meal costs about $10. And while we enjoy delectable bread bowls, a local family goes hungry.

Through food banks we can provide an entire meal for one individual for 29 cents, which is less than the price of a postage stamp, according to foodbankonline.org. With the same $10 we spend dining out, a food bank could feed 34 people.

There exists a real crisis in America. People are hungry. Citizens who a year ago would never have thought they would need the assistance of a food bank or a soup kitchen have become frequent patrons. Our nation’s economy is the worst it has been since the Great Depression. People are laid off with bills to pay and families to feed.

“We are seeing many faces, both new and familiar. But the new faces we’re seeing are impacting us greatly. So many people have lost their jobs, their homes and their livelihoods,” Director of Communications for Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (BRAFB) Ruth Jones said.

As a result, the BRAFB has experienced a 24 percent increase across their network. The BRAFB serves 25 counties and nine cities in Virginia, which covers 12,000 square miles. In Lynchburg alone, it feeds approximately 15,000 people each month. The BRAFB expects to distribute 1.9 million meals this year, an increase of 400,000 more meals than last year, serving 4,800 of those to children.

The requests for help at local food banks are at an all-time high.
America needs food banks because seniors who are living on fixed incomes cannot afford pay for both medication and food. Our nation’s economy has made it more difficult than ever for people to provide for themselves.

“We’re just trying to keep up and be that emergency resource when people need (it),” said Jones.

The Daily Bread, a soup kitchen in downtown Lynchburg, serves meals seven days a week to the hungry. They serve 40,000 meals a year, which averages to 110 meals per day. They only serve for an hour and a half every day.

The need for food real and it is immediate. Regardless of our socioeconomic status — whether $10 is chump change or our weekly budget — we can all help feed America’s hungry. We can organize a food drive with our brother or sister dorms, clubs, athletic teams or intramural teams. Thousands of pounds of food could be donated for Lynchburg’s hungry if groups across our campus banded together in support.

For those of us who are “living on prayers” and cannot donate food, we can donate our time. Volunteers are needed at the BRAFB. Get involved by starting a soup kitchen at a local church. Or write Obama a letter, encouraging him to roll up his sleeves and serve meals at a D.C. soup kitchen. Change starts, after all, with a single act.

Contact Katie Bell at kebell2@liberty.edu.
 


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