September: Hunger Action Month
September is Hunger Action Month, sponsored by the Feeding America Network. It is a time to be reminded that 46 million Americans seek help from area food banks each year – 12 million of them are children. The Feeding American Network is far reaching to food banks, churches and other community organizations to provide food to local families in need. Through this network there are weekend backpack programs for school-age children and summer nutrition programs because hunger doesn’t take a vacation.
Children who experience hunger on a regular basis may have health-issues because growth needs may not be met if there is insufficient food. The first three years are so important for physical and emotional growth and development. And at young ages, inadequate food can cause developmental impairment of language and motor skills. Often these children must repeat grades because learning is impaired. How can you focus or remember information taught in class if you are hungry?
Nearly 6 million seniors face hunger every day from insufficient food. Often they must choose between buying food or purchasing medicine. And of these seniors who experience regular hunger, 41 percent have diabetes, and 70 percent have high blood pressure, so many of them are on prescribed medications.
With so many millions of Americans facing hunger every day, it is hard to fathom that food is wasted in this country. Feeding America is working to rescue food from farms, food manufacturers, restaurants and grocery stores. Can you believe that 52 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants end up in landfills? An additional 20 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables are discarded on farms or left in fields and plowed under.
We are fortunate in many communities to have some great networking between the groups mentioned above and local food banks so that less food goes to waste. You can personally help also. Volunteer with your church food pantry or other food bank. And of course, money donations always work too. You can obtain more information about Hunger Action Month or find out about your local food banks at this website: www.feedingamerica.org.
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.