Hunger Action Month™ annual awareness campaign kicks off Sept. 1

Hunger Action Month will launch Saturday across the country and in Southwest Florida to mobilize people to take action to fight hunger in their communities.

From Sept. 1 to Sept. 30, the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks, including the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, will raise awareness of the fact that fact that 41 million Americans, including nearly 13 million children, are food insecure, according to the USDA. Being food insecure means that they often don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

In the five-county Southwest Florida region the Harry Chapin Food Bank serves, 154,740 people are food insecure, according to Map the Meal Gap 2018, an annual study done by Feeding America. Of that number, 47,320 are children. In addition, about two-thirds of public school children are eligible for or receive free or reduced-priced meals from their school because of their families’ low income.

This is the 11th year Feeding America has organized this annual call to action. The 2018 campaign asks people to consider how it must feel to live with an empty stomach, which puts a healthy life and a promising future at risk.

According to Feeding America’s study, Hunger in America 2014, nearly half of households served by the Feeding America network include someone that is in either fair or poor health. In Southwest Florida, 75 percent of people the Harry Chapin Food Bank serves reported having to choose between buying food and paying for medical care, the study says. In addition, 80 percent reported having to choose between buying food and paying for utilities. Seniors are particularly hard hit.

“This is our 35th anniversary year,” said Richard LeBer, president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank.  “Whether it’s holding mobile pantries, serving our more than 150 partner agencies, or feeding seniors, our mission is to lead our community in the fight to end hunger.  Hunger Action Month is a time to highlight that mission and let the public know that there are simple steps they can take to help.”

Orange is the color for Hunger Action Month, and we invite you to wear it often. The focal point of the month is Hunger Action Day on Sept. 13, but the Harry Chapin Food Bank has a calendar full of ways you can take action against hunger every day of the month. Find the calendar and a Hunger Action Month web page with more how-to information by visiting www.harrychapinfoodbank.org, and clicking on the orange Hunger Action Month banner.

In addition, residents can raise awareness and help fight hunger at two events:

 7:45 to 9 a.m., Sept. 25: “Food for Thought,” a meet-and-greet with Richard LeBer, our CEO, featuring a tour of the food bank and a light breakfast. To register, email mmadzar@harrychapinfoodbank.org or call 239-334-7007.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 29: “Let’s Feed Lee,” a one-day food drive in partnership with Publix Super Markets and the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties. Residents are invited to visit any one of 35 Publix Super Markets in Lee County, purchase one or more of the items the Harry Chapin Food Bank needs most, and donate them to the food bank staff and volunteers set up outside.

About the Harry Chapin Food Bank

The Harry Chapin Food Bank, an affiliate of Feeding America, is the leading hunger-relief organization in Southwest Florida. The food bank solicits, collects and stores food for distribution to families and others in need through a network of more than 150 nonprofit agencies in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties, providing food to about 28,000 people a week.

For every dollar donated, the food bank can provide $8 in food value. In fiscal year 2017-18, The Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed 24 million pounds of food and other grocery items, including 6.4 million pounds of fresh produce. The food, valued at $41.5 million, is the equivalent of 20 million meals for people in need. 

The food bank is also a United Way partner agency.  For more information or to make a donation, call (239) 334-7007 or visit harrychapinfoodbank.org.

About Feeding America®

Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate.  Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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