Taking action during Hunger Action Month

Bruce Ganger
Special To The Black Mountain News

Welcome to Hunger Action Month. 

Every year the month of September is designated to raise awareness of the issue of hunger, its rippling effects on individual and community health and introduce ways that each of us, as individuals, can create solutions to hunger. 

Throughout this month Bounty & Soul will produce a weekly column to share information about hunger and invite the community to join the Black Mountain-based nonprofit organization and its partners on the journey to ensuring that no one is hungry and everyone is healthy.

This week we'll focus on how you can help people gain access to healthy food, but first a little background on food insecurity in our community.

Every day in Buncombe and McDowell Counties one out of every six people starts the day not knowing if, how or when they will next eat a meal. That's one out of six of your neighbors, friends, co-workers, people you meet on the street. 

That number shockingly rises to one out of four when we focus only on children under the age of 18. With that many people not having reliable, consistent access to food, chances are high that you know someone who is hungry. 

The daycare worker who takes care of your children or grandchildren, the medical assistant in your doctor’s office, a retail clerk you regularly encounter or someone who sits in the pew with you at church on Sunday. 

Hundreds of people we interact with every day at Bounty & Soul fall into this situation.  Many are seniors on fixed incomes who are making choices between paying the rent and buying food. Others are working families who are deciding between putting gas in the car to get to work or buying food, while some are veterans on a disability payment that only gets them through the first three weeks of every month. All these neighbors are stretching every dollar to make ends meet. 

Many times, they can’t stretch far enough, and they come to Bounty & Soul for help.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been challenged by someone to whom this is all new news. They will ask me: “Bruce, how can that fat person be hungry?  They look like they are eating too much.” 

The simple fact is that they are overweight because they are not eating healthy food.  Perhaps they are a part of a household on limited income whose pay or benefits run out early in the month and they are buying the cheapest food they can to stretch every dollar to take care of themselves. 

That food is likely high sugar and salt and fills them for now. It’s certainly not fresh produce, whole grains and lean protein that are more expensive at a retail store or farmers market.

You may be wondering how you can help, and almost everyone can.

You can host a healthy food drive at work or school or church or in your neighborhood and donate what is collected. You will enjoy knowing that kids are eating carrots and apples instead of chips and I assure you they will enjoy the fruits and veggies more.

If you have a garden at home or work or are a part of a community garden, donate excess output. Got some very happy, healthy, productive chickens? Everyone loves fresh eggs. Are your friends tired of you giving them tomatoes?  Donate them.

Volunteer at the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry food pantry or at Bounty & Soul to learn more about the issue and become a valued part of the solution.

Donate to Bounty & Soul. Every $1 becomes three to four days of fresh produce and whole grains to a household that otherwise can’t afford it.