Hunger Action Month 2020: Every Action Counts
By Lisa Scales
September is Hunger Action Month. Millions of families in the United States are facing hunger, many for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here in southwestern Pennsylvania, the long lines continue to form for food assistance at our drive-up distributions. At our last two events to end August, we served more than 600 families in Wilkinsburg and Duquesne.
Feeding America estimates that 54 million people may be food insecure in 2020, including 18 million children. Nationally, as many as 4 in 10 people visiting a food bank now need assistance because of COVID-19. And while the pandemic has changed our way of living, it has not changed our spirit of helping our neighbors in need.
While much of the focus in the news over the past 6 months has been on the need for food assistance as a result of the pandemic, food insecurity has always been and will continue to be an issue in this region until everyone comes together to end it. The fact remains that prior to the pandemic, 1 in 7 people in our region were food insecure, including 1 in 5 children. COVID-19 wasn’t the cause of hunger, it only proliferated it. Unfortunately, when this dreaded virus is eradicated, there will still be hunger in our region and across America.
Hunger Action Month, now in its thirteenth year as an annual call to action, provides food banks across the country the opportunity to raise our collective voices on behalf of the millions of people facing hunger. Join us in our efforts by donating, volunteering, and speaking out about the significant problem of food insecurity in our region.
Do you know someone who needs help? You can play an important role by letting your loved ones and neighbors know that it is okay to ask for help and share with them where they can find support. Our website, www.pittsburghfoodbank.org, has great resources directing you or someone you know to food assistance including a pantry locator, mass distribution schedules, our Doorstep Delivery service and information on applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In addition to providing food assistance, we are continuing our efforts this month to eliminate racial and social injustice and inequality, a root cause of food insecurity, through our Food Justice is Social Justice campaign. We are committed to speaking up, speaking out and supporting our neighbors of color who continue to be plagued by systemic racism in this country.
Looking ahead this month, the Food Bank will have some news to share regarding our future plans for expansion. We will be communicating that out in the coming weeks. September 10 is Hunger Action Day. Orange is the color of hunger, and I encourage everyone to join together by wearing orange and raising our voices on behalf of the millions of people facing hunger. Also, the week of September 14 is WTAE Project Hunger Week. We will be partnering with WTAE to raise awareness and funds to combat hunger in our region. Tell your friends and family what you’re doing to help end hunger. Don’t forget to tag us @PGHFoodBank and use #HungerActionMonth!
In closing, as Jimmy Valvano said in his ESPY’s speech in 1993, “cancer cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul”. I think about those same sentiments as related to our neighbors’ struggle with food insecurity. No matter the barriers in front of us, together we can overcome anything.
President & CEO
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank