September is Hunger Action Month across the United States. In West Virginia, hunger is a serious issue for 267,000, or one in six, West Virginians every day.
Hunger isn’t always something that can be identified at a glance. Sometimes it’s the single parent skipping a meal so that their child can eat, a senior stretching lunch into dinner, or even a child sneaking home snacks for their siblings. Hunger takes a toll, whether we notice it or not.
Fortunately, hunger is one public issue that is solvable in the U.S.
Right now, Congress is entrenched in debate over the Farm Bill and the House version (H.R.2) and Senate version (S. 3042). For West Virginia, the Senate bill goes much farther in protecting our most vulnerable populations, including seniors, veterans and children. The Senate maintains a strong Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), while maintaining funding for commodity programs for families and seniors. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) feeds thousands of families each year through our network of feeding programs, while the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides monthly assistance to 5,000 seniors in West Virginia along.
SNAP is critical to solving hunger in the United States, both by providing access to nutrition for adults and children, and as an economic driver for the country. SNAP provides seven times the meals as the charitable sector, a gap that quite simply could not be made up. The only way to do that is through a Farm Bill with robust nutritional programs for SNAP, TEFAP and CSFP.
Many of us know that hunger is not seasonal. I hope that Hunger Action Month sparks something greater, a stronger or renewed interest, into doing something about hunger all year long.
This year, Mountaineer Food Bank hopes to engage our Congressional representatives during the National Congressional Farm Bill call-in day on September 13 and at the local level on September 18 by hosting a day at the food bank. We encourage West Virginia Legislative members to visit and gain a better understanding of how the emergency food system works in West Virginia. I hope that everyone takes a few moments to let their representatives know that hunger is a concern by calling, emailing or stopping in.
We’ll be working hard this September and thanks to hundreds of West Virginia donors, our food bank will distribute nearly 1.5 million pounds this month alone to families and individuals struggling with hunger.
Hunger is solvable if we work together.
J. Chad Morrison
Mountaineer Food Bank