Usage increasing at peninsula food bank

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On June 7, while in Washington, D.C., I participated in a National Hunger Awareness Day with five other Alaskans visiting our Congressional delegation and lobbying for the Hunger-Free Communities Act of 2005, which fights hunger in the United States.

This Act renews our national commitment to cutting food insecurity in half by 2010 and sets a goal to end hunger in the United States by 2015. It expresses the need for nutrition programs that should receive adequate funding to meet program requirements and the entitlement nature of programs, such as food stamps and that school meals should be preserved.

Nationally, hunger has been on the rise for the past four years. Here on the Kenai Peninsula, the number of families requesting USDA TEFAP Commodities increased an average of more than 23 percent in 2004 from 2003. During the first four months of 2005, the number of families requesting help from the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank increased another 19 percent.

It will take political will — not only private charity — to end hunger in our country. The federal budget echoes the country's morals. This budget should reflect our moral obligation to help hardworking individuals feed their families.

Globally you can help coffee growers by purchasing Equal Exchange Coffee, Tea and Chocolate at your local grocer. This company purchases products in 14 developing countries from 28 farm cooperatives, businesses owned and governed democratically by the farmers themselves. Fair trade promotes community pride, independence and empowerment for small farmers and their families.

Hunger is a condition in which people do not get enough food to provide the nutrients for full productive, active and healthy lives. People living in households where there is hunger are often forced to go without food because they cannot afford to buy it or cannot provide enough for everyone in the household.

Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability or ability to acquire safe, nutritious food in a socially acceptable way. People living in households that are food insecure do not always know how to provide for their next meal and are often forced to cut back on meals or food portions to stretch resources.

Linda Swarner, Executive director, Kenai Peninsula Food Bank

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