NC 4-H Youth Development announces the Hungry to Help initiative
We’ve all heard the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, it’s true – nutritious food is good medicine. Food is one of our most basic needs. Along with oxygen, water, and shelter, it is necessary for human survival. In a nation as affluent as the United States, no child should go hungry. Yet everyday hunger disrupts the lives of 1 in 5 children in North Carolina.
Hunger is a problem hiding “in plain sight” in North Carolina. Whether it involves skipping meals, eating less than is needed to live a healthy life, or making do with foods that are filling but not nutritious, hunger’s effects can be devastating, especially among our more vulnerable citizens, including children and older adults.
According to an analysis by Feeding America, a hunger relief organization with which the food banks are affiliated, North Carolina ranks as the second-worst state in the nation when it comes to children under 5 lacking regular access to nutritious food and as 10th-worst for children of all ages.
In May 2009, Feeding America released the results of its first analysis of food insecurity in early childhood, “Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005 - 2007.” North Carolina ranked second worst in the nation with 24.1 percent of its children under 5 judged to be food insecure and lacking regular access to nutritional food. The state was 10th worst in the same Feeding America study of food insecurity in children 0-18 years old. Both studies used figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nationally, the food insecurity average is 17 percent for children under 5.
To combat hunger the NC 4-H Youth Development program and the Food Banks of North Carolina, all of which are affiliates of Feeding AmericaTM our nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, have teamed up to promote awareness of hunger in North Carolina and to make an impact in local communities through a new hunger awareness initiative entitled “Hungry to Help.”
According to Dr. Marshall Stewart, State 4-H Leader, “ Exciting plans are underway to prepare 4-H’ers, 4-H volunteers and alumni to host a variety of hunger awareness programs, can food drives (virtual and real) and sponsor hunger related volunteer efforts in their local communities. Extension offices across the state will become “drop-off” locations for can food collections and the entire Extension family is gearing up to prepare participants to be citizen leaders for hunger relief.”
One of the initiative’s short-term goals is for 4-H’ers in all 100 North Carolina counties to conduct canned food drives during national 4-H week, the first week in October. 4-H recognizes that knowledge and understanding are powerful tools in the battle to end hunger, and that food insecurity undermines our nation’s investments in education and health care.