Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hunger in Chester County

This essay was written by our EGFM intern - Julia Badyna, a senior at Great Valley High School. We have greatly appreciated Julia's assistance this summer at the market.  She has been a dedicated volunteer and embraced this opportunity to increase the awareness of hunger in our backyard.

Hunger is defined as a condition in which people do not get enough food to provide the nutrients for active, healthy lives.  Of the approximately 17.2 million households in the United States, about two million are labeled as “food insecure”.  The term “food insecure” is used to describe households in which the inhabitants struggle to have enough food to eat.  

Approximately 40,000 households in Chester County are food insecure.  Across the country, one in every seven people struggle with hunger, and forty million Americans rely on government food services. The statistics are even more staggering when dealing with single mothers, children, and the elderly.  

The percent of women living in poverty over sixty-five is greater in Chester County than the national average.  

One out of every four single mothers with children under eighteen live below the federal poverty threshold, and, as of 2009, 90% of shelter users are single mothers and their children.  Children across the board struggle with hunger, not just those with single mothers.  Every year since 2005, the number of school children eating free or reduced pay lunches has been on the rise.  People across the country struggle with having enough food, and thankfully, various agencies are stepping in to put an end to hunger in America.
Across the country, many agencies are playing a part in helping those Americans who struggle with hunger.  

In Chester County there are multiple non-profit organizations that battle hunger in our area every day.  Meals On Wheels of Chester County is a meal service that delivers meals to those who are unable to pay for food or are otherwise incapable of making their own healthy meals.  Safe Harbor is another local organization that is helping people battle hunger every day.  The Chester County Food Bank collects canned, nonperishable goods for delivery to multiple food shelters across the county.  September 20th the East Goshen Farmers’ Market is teaming up with the St. Agnes Day Room to collect food products that they can use in meals/grocery bags for those who struggle with hunger in Chester County!  All of these organizations do their parts to help stop hunger, and now you can too!

You don’t need to run an entire agency to get involved in the fight against hunger in Chester County.  There are many ways to help out, and no effort is too small!  A great place to start is to learn more about the hunger in our area.  The more you know, the more you can help!  Sharing information with others can also greatly increase the number of people who are active against hunger.  If you’re interested in a hands-on experience, volunteer!  There are many ways to get involved as a volunteer for any of the food organizations in our area.  You can help local organizations with specific projects, organize food drives, deliver food from the warehouses to various shelters across the county, or donate your time in the warehouses organizing and unpacking food. Even if you don’t have the time to volunteer at a location, monetary donations can help the agencies to stock their shelves with more food.  

An awesome way to help out would be to donate some food to the St. Agnes Day Room Food Drive going on at the East Goshen Farmers’ Market September 20th!  As the number of Americans struggling with hunger rises, the St Agnes Day Room is in greater need than ever of food donations.  

The St Agnes Day Room was founded to serve the basic needs of those locals who struggle with poverty and homelessness.  The staff and volunteers at the Day Room serve breakfast, nutritious hot lunches, and distribute bags of groceries to those who are unable to provide for themselves and their families. In addition they also distribute parcels of clothing to the needy (particularly children), and distribute packages of diapers and formula to needy families with newborns.  The Day Room provides a welcoming and safe environment for those in need during these hard economic times. 

Now its our turn to show our support to the St Agnes Day Room. September 20th we are asking the shoppers of the EGFM and all of their family and friends to make a donation to the St. Agnes Day Room. No donation of food or money is too small! Its as simple as buying a little something extra at the market and dropping it off in one of the collection bins located at the market. No need to bring canned or boxed goods from home - the Day Room can accept a donation from any of our market farmers or food artisans - a box of potatoes, a baked good, anything. 

Monetary donations are also welcome. If you would like to contribute a monetary donation, please make checks payable to St Agnes Day Room. Thank you in advance for your donations!

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