Tuesday, November 22, 2011 by Lee Mannering

Getting involved in food security and anti-hunger efforts

Last week I read about a Gallup poll which revealed that more than 20 percent of Americans said they did not have enough money to buy the food they or their families needed in October, closing in on the record-high 20.6 percent reported in November 2008 – adding to the growing evidence that more Americans are in economic distress. In addition, more than 13 million U.S. households received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in 2010, according to USDA.

The state with the highest food stamp/SNAP participation was Oregon with 17.9 percent while Tennessee and Michigan were among other states with the highest participation, while California, New Jersey and Wyoming were among the states with the lowest participation rates. Sixteen states had increases in food stamp/SNAP participation larger than the national average increase of 16.2 percent.

Here in Delaware, there were 77,138 Delawareans receiving SNAP benefits in July 2008; by August 2011 that number had grown to 139,878 (and we’re a small state!).

Yesterday I spent part of the day delivering food baskets for a local charity. I did this last year, and much like the 2010 deliveries, it was both a tiring and rewarding experience. One recipient told me that the basket “was a miracle” because he has a house full of kids to take care of and he didn’t know how he was going to have food for his Thanksgiving table.

This time of year in particular, we all see food drives for those in need. I can tell you these efforts take on a different meaning when you can connect the food to someone in need and see how the food basket makes a huge difference to them and their situations.

You’ll recall that last month, Fresh Summit exhibitors gave more than 316,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, as well as three other Feeding America food bank members in Georgia. That figure represents an almost 20 percent increase in the amount of fresh produce donated after Fresh Summit 2010. Our industry’s donation has become one of my favorite parts of Fresh Summit.

If you’d like to get involved with Feeding America and its produce program (or its hunger relief efforts in general), go to the Feeding America website to find a local food bank in your area to help make a miracle happen in your community.

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