Research shows hunger not confined to poor countries; it's here, too

Students help fight hunger

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2003

Editor's Note: Students in the sixth through 12th grade in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District were invited to participate in an essay contest to raise community awareness of hunger. The contest, sponsored by the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, was held in conjunction with World Food Day on Oct. 16. Winning essays will be published today and Monday.

World hunger is an extensive problem in our society. I was not aware that millions of people are chronically hungry in Africa, South America, Europe and other places around the globe. Yes, even in our local communities on the Kenai Peninsula, hundreds of people go hungry every day.

After interviewing a volunteer from our local food bank, the information made a considerable impression on me. I was never aware that the food bank feeds 90 to 100 people daily. I wondered what would happen to those people if no volunteers showed up to cook, serve and care? What if we, as a community, had more volunteers to help at the food bank and donate more food so we could provide meals on weekends?

While researching information I didn't realize how many children skip meals and can't concentrate in school because they are hungry. They may be well dressed and have working parents, but by the end of the month the money is mostly spent. People live paycheck to paycheck.

Looking at photos from the Hunger Project, I realized that food can't be grown in some areas because of severe drought. Water is essential to keep us alive and grow food. The Hunger Project provides assistance to poor countries. Peace Corps volunteers help other countries learn how to farm and irrigate their land. One Peace Corps volunteer said, "My years as a Peace Corps volunteer were a learning experience that surpassed any formal study." This made me more interested in the Peace Corps program.

I realized through my reading that some people are addicted to drugs and use the money they earn for drugs and alcohol instead of buying food. Some people suffer from depression and are unable to get food for themselves. Many infants and children are not cared for properly and don't receive the nutrients they need or because they don't have enough food in the home. These people are our hungry. Are we seeing to their special needs and situations?

Other problems exist too. People walk for miles to get to a food bank; others live in cars because they can't afford a house. Some are too proud to accept handouts or don't want to be seen at food banks. Providing transportation to the food bank or delivering food to individual homes may help in these situations. Do we have enough workers or volunteers to provide these services?

We need to make more people aware of the hunger problems locally, nationally, and internationally. Locally, we need additional canned food drives and fund-raisers, donations of more food to the food bank, and volunteers to serve and deliver meals. More state and government aid is also needed, but let's first start with us!

My mom used to teach kindergarten and had this quote hung on her classroom wall: "None of us is as smart as all of us!" Think about that when thinking of what we can do together to help end world hunger.

Vanessa Dukowitz is in the sixth grade at Kenai Middle School.

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