National Hunger Action Month Comes to an End

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COLUMBIA - September is not just a time for back to school and football games. It's also National Hunger Action Month, a campaign advocated by Feeding America. It is a time to reflect on those who are hungry and homeless.

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri's communications coordinator Rachel Ellersieck said, "It's just a time that we all can just remember that there are a lot of people out there who are hungry and take action, whether it be large or small in the fight against hunger."

More than 50 million people in America face hunger. That is one in six of the U.S. population. Missouri is ranked seventh in the nation for food insecurity. Missouri also has the fifth highest rate of child insecurity. The Food Bank for Central and Northeastern Missouri has made the public aware of these numbers, especially this month. "It's mostly been a social media campaign, and so through our Facebook and Twitter pages, we've had a calendar called ‘30 Ways in 30 Days.' So every day of September we've put up a different way that you can take action against hunger," said Ellersieck.

In our service area, one in six people are food insecure and one in eight will seek food assistance from their network this year. More than 112,000 people are living at or below the poverty line in the 32 counties that the Food Bank for Central and Northeastern Missouri serves.

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is the only food bank in the area, but it provides food to a network of more than 135 agency partners. It is one of five food banks nationwide to give its food out for free to member agencies. The food goes to soup kitchens, emergency food pantries, shelters for the abused and homeless, children and senior citizens and rehabilitation centers. Last year, the food bank distributed more than 28 million pounds of food and partnering agencies helped nearly 100,000 people each month.

Volunteers help distribute millions of pounds of food every year at minimal cost. Last year, volunteers contributed more than 85,000 hours. The Food Bank encourages any kind of volunteering, whether it is one time or on a regular basis. Volunteer Sheriley Ballard comes three days a week and her husband comes daily. "I think it helps a lot of people. There are a lot of hungry people out there. We do senior boxes, for the elderly, and we do buddy packs for the children," said Ballard.

The Food Bank has a few suggestions for helping our community:

-Give Food: Food drives are an important source for those in need.
-Give Money: For every dollar, the Food Bank can provide 11 meals.
-Give Time: Volunteers allow the Food Bank to distribute millions of pounds of food every year at a minimal cost.
-Give Voice: Sharing information is one of the most important actions to take.

"We hope that this month can kind of help people put things in perspective and realize that it really doesn't take much for them to help someone else in need," said Ellersieck.