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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hunger In Our Own Backyard

Last week, I gave some pretty harsh statistics on hunger in America and even right here in Arkansas.  What can you do to help?  The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas is based here in Jonesboro and works to combat hunger in an 11 county area.  The Food Bank distributes food 4 to 5 times a year in 18 different locations within these counties.  Other programs include providing 20 lb. box of food every other week to an elderly person in need and a backpack of food for the weekend to school children who would otherwise go hungry.  Statistics from the Food Bank show that 89% of recipients have incomes below the government poverty level, 25% are children under 18, 8% are elderly, and 3% are homeless.

You can help with these efforts by giving money or time.  Volunteers deliver senior packs, organize food drives, sort food, pack food boxes/backpacks, assist with office work or help with food distributions.  Call 932-3663 or check their website at for more information.  Giving money is important too.  You can sponsor a senior for $120 a year or a child's backpack for $144 a year.  By simply giving a check, you can ensure that the Food Bank is able to buy what is most needed at the time.

Another worthy organization here in Jonesboro is the Helping Neighbors Food Pantry which serves Craighead county.  Helping Neighbors is an all volunteer organization supported by area churches.  Donated money is used to buy food from The Food Bank or from local merchants who sell the food at cost.  Helping Neighbors provides food for about 21,000 individuals annually.  Volunteers are needed for office work, sorting and packing food, or picking up food from different locations.  Call 935-7298 or visit the website at for more information.

City Youth Ministries provides dinner during the school year and lunch or dinner during the summer and snacks daily to disadvantaged youth, among other programs.  They can always use volunteers and donations of money to help.  Call 932-9398 or visit their website at for more information.

Last, ABC News is starting a new series on Hunger at Home; Crisis in America.  This series starts Wednesday and will air on Good Morning America, World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline.  The federal government has released new data showing that America now has the largest number of people living in poverty in 50 years and nearly 51 million have no health insurance.  Unemployment is around 9%.  Watch this series and do what you can to help.

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