By Laura McDonough
Feeding America declared September Hunger Action Month to raise awareness of hunger in the United States.
This year they have launched their 30 Ways in 30 Days campaign, creating a calendar that outlines one task the public can do each day to get involved in the fight against hunger.
Feeding America is also asking the public to take selfies balancing a spoon on their nose to share on social media with a hunger statistic and the hashtag #Spoontember in hopes of educating the public on the issue and encouraging them to take action.
Hunger Action Month will be observed by 200 food banks nationwide, including the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.
Second Harvest Food Bank fills more than 15,000 requests for emergency food assistance each week through 153 hunger-relief organizations in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
In the Mahoning Valley, one in four children and one in six adults suffer from hunger. These numbers are slightly worse than the national averages of one in five children and one in nine adults. Approximately 92,000 people in the Mahoning Valley may not know where their next meal comes from.
Ashley Orr, president of the Student Government Association, partnered with Youngstown State University’s honors program to spread awareness of poverty through a student organization called Poverty Action in Youngstown.
SGA recognizes poverty is an ongoing problem in the Youngstown area and hunger is not the only symptom.
“To extend the project this year and expand awareness, we have events planned each month,” Orr said.
During September, SGA will collect food and volunteer at the food bank.
“Last year we did a week of awareness and a week of volunteering … This year we’re doing a year of awareness and we’re still doing our week of volunteering,” Orr said. “We need to constantly be creating awareness.”
Last October and November, YSU’s branch of Sigma Alpha Lambda, a national honor society, hosted a successful canned food drive by placing drop off boxes around campus.
Allison Guerrieri, secretary of Sigma Alpha Lambda, said she would like to get involved in Hunger Action Month by hosting a longer food drive and possibly combining forces with other honors organizations to expand their reach.
Guerrieri said her organization uses the food drive as a fundraiser while benefitting the food bank.
“We can use the food drive as a fundraiser for our organization by selling t-shirts, but [all of the] food goes to the Second Harvest Food Bank, and [Sigma Alpha Lambda] does not profit for having the actual food drive,” Guerrieri said.
Guerrieri said Sigma Alpha Lambda enjoys volunteering its time and serving as an example for others in the community.
“It shows other students and organizations that there are programs out there to help those in need, and it does not take a lot of work or effort to make a big difference in someone else’s life,” Guerrieri said.
Melissa Dolan, president of Students in Dietetics at YSU, said their group shares values with the food bank.
“We both want to serve the community and understand the importance of helping those around us and making sure everyone is fed properly,” Dolan said.
She said taking care of basic needs is the first step to helping the community grow.
Students in Dietetics plans to work with Second Harvest Food Bank on Hunger Action Day.
“We always enjoy working with the Second Harvest Food Bank and hope to again soon,” Dolan said.
To participate in Hunger Action Month or receive additional information, contact Becky Miller at [email protected] or the Second Harvest Food Bank at 330-792-5522 ext. 105.