Hunger Awareness Month in West Orange Ends on Hopeful Note
Sunday, October 6, 2013 • 2:33pm
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The month of September was nationally recognized as "Hunger Awareness Month," and West Orange participated throughout the month with events to raise awareness and funding for hunger.
ShopRite of Essex Green collected donations and held fund raising activities to donate money to their ShopRite "Partners in Caring" grant efforts. On Sept. 18, Mayor Robert Parisi and members of the town administration participated in the annual "Bag Hunger" event as they donned aprons and bagged customer groceries to raise hunger awareness.
On Sept. 20, one of the largest events, United Presbyterian Church's showing of "A Place at the Table," Chef Tom Colicchio's 90-minute documentary, premiered, followed by a panel discussion with Community FoodBank Advocate Diane Riley, Holy Trinity-West Orange Food Pantry's Administrator Cynthia Cumming, and ShopRite Dietician Lachelle Miller.
Statistics for hunger in America: 50 Million Americans, or one in six, are food insecure, and one in four American children is food insecure. A family of four cannot qualify for food stamps if they make more than $29,000 per year, and a daily food stamp benefit is about $3. The fastest growing population at food pantries and food banks are working people who cannot make ends meet. There were 200 food banks, soup kitchens and pantries in 1980, and today there are over 40,000. However, they are incapable of providing more than a limited amount of assistance to need families. (Note: these figures and more available from http://www.feedingamerica.org/.
While the cost for meats, fruits and vegetables has increased 40 percent since 1980, the cost of processed foods has decreased by 40 percent. Seventy percent of government agricultural subsidies go to the largest farms, comprising 10 percent of the total amount of farmers in the U.S.
In Essex County, 19.6 percent, or 195,399 in 2011, were food insecure. In West Orange, where 33 percent of public school students qualify for free or reduced lunches, 20 percent of those children, or 2,375, may be food insecure.
The federal government cut $40 billion dollars in food stamps this month, and with the current government shutdown, federal food for food banks and other programs are at risk of not being able to provide needed food resources.
On Sept. 29, the West Orange Rotary held a huge food drive at the Essex Green ShopRite on behalf of the Holy Trinity-West Orange Food Pantry. Several thousands of pounds were collected and monies collected will be used by the food pantry to purchase needed food at ShopRite.
The Holy Trinity-West Orange Food pantry needs turkeys and trimmings for 150 families for Thanksgiving. Email Administrator Cynthia Cumming at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.