Consider that 23 percent — nearly 1 in 4 — Michigan residents are food insecure. I believe you will agree with me that this is unacceptable. I urge you to take a closer look at those around you and reconsider the faces of hunger.
The Food Bank Council of Michigan and our statewide network of member food banks are finished being bullied by hunger. We are determined to not only to see hunger retreat, but rather ensure every person in our state becomes food secure. Hunger is not smarter or stronger than us, and we can put an end to it.
We need to first and foremost reimagine who is hungry. Who are the faces of hunger? It is your neighbor, your friend, your co-worker and your family. Those who have a little more month than money. Hungry kids are more likely to struggle in school, twice as likely to repeat a grade and three times as likely to be suspended.
Eighteen percent of food bank clients are senior citizens. They often face difficulties paying for food because they are on a fixed income, paying for prescriptions, house payments and utilities.
Out of all states, Michigan is most equipped to end hunger as the second most diverse agricultural state in the United States. Our variety and quantity of nutritious food are more than ample to meet the needs of our residents.
To move food from the source to those in need, we must create better access for children and seniors. In our state, we have communities that are scarce of food, traditionally termed “food deserts.” We can now flood these areas with food resources, education and help solve the access problem.
Council members serve all 83 counties and, today, we are delivering more pounds of food than ever in our history. Although Michigan’s economy is improving and our unemployment rate is decreasing, many of those who have achieved steady income still aren’t bringing in enough to make ends meet.
Hunger Action Month, which just concluded on Friday, coincides with the kickoff of the annual Michigan Harvest Gathering. Since 1991, this annual initiative has raised nearly 10 million pounds of food and $10 million to stock Michigan food banks. Yet, we still have many who go hungry every day, including our most vulnerable residents.
Let’s create a food secure state. Take a moment to volunteer or donate to your local food bank. Help your family, friends and co-workers who are hungry.
Food security is not beyond us; it is not bigger or better than us.