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September: Take action against hunger

Beans, leeks and peppers
Beans, leeks and peppers
Missy A Kitchell

Snacks in the cupboard, fruit in a bowl on the kitchen counter and eggs, milk and butter in the fridge. Pretty standard fare that most of us take for granted. If we run out of something, we add it to the list and pick it up on the next trip to the market. However on the way to the store, we’ll encounter individuals who don’t have enough to eat. Some will be standing at the stop light holding the all too common cardboard sign saying “hungry, anything helps,” while others are going through the grocery aisle, carefully counting the cost of each item that goes into the cart.

One in six Americans doesn’t have enough food. This is a mind boggling statistic that is hard to wrap our heads around. People are faced with a dilemma: do I pay the rent or buy a bag of groceries? What about utilities and transportation costs? Being unsure of what is right, they step into a coping mode, often seeking assistance from family or friends, choosing inexpensive, not always healthy foods or even watering down the food and drinks that are available.

In Oregon alone, almost 17% of our population is considered food insecure. They are simply not confident about their next meal. This figure is not just related to the homeless or unemployed. Working families are having a difficult time making ends meet.

Feeding America, a national non-profit organization with a network of food banks that serve communities through pantries and soup kitchens, designates September as Hunger Action Month. Their focus is to bring awareness to John Q Public of the uncertainties that many face on a daily basis.

In the greater Portland metro area we have a number of establishments dedicated to feeding our food insecure population, such as Oregon Food Bank and Portland Rescue Mission. Both of these take donations of food, your dollars and time. Another group that is gleaning from backyard-garden-abundance is Ample Harvest. They work in conjunction with food pantries to distribute excess fruits and veggies to hungry families. There’s a number of drop-off locations scattered around the city.

Here’s how it works: check their website for the closest pantry, pick an extra basket of goodies from your garden and deliver it to the pantry. They’ll take it from there. No garden? No problem, they also accept foodstuff from the farmer’s market as well as shelf-stable goods from the grocery store.

Take action - support local food pantries and soup kitchens.

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