Help Replace Hunger with Healthy Meals
For most people, the word “summer” stirs an endless pot of memories full of play time, pool days and popsicles with the neighborhood kids. But for one out of every five kids in Arizona, summertime means hunger.
As soon as school-age kids are on the bus ride home from the last day of the school year, they face the challenge of finding enough to eat without being provided school meals. More than 637,000 low-income children in Arizona – a group equal to the entire population of Baltimore, Md. – participate in the National School Lunch Program. So how do those growing bodies get stay fed and healthy during the summer months?
Arizona Farm Bureau has partnered with St. Mary’s Food Bank, who is leading the fight against hunger for Arizona children. For the second straight year, they are on track to distribute more than 60 million pounds of food to families in need – providing enough food for more than 250,000 meals every day in 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties.
And it certainly doesn’t take much to make a difference in the life of a hungry child. For every dollar donated to St. Mary’s, the Food Bank can provide enough food to distribute seven meals in the community. Seeing as how the average candy bar costs about a dollar, St. Mary’s is definitely making the most of those contributions. Annually awarded a four-star rating by Charity Navigator for its excellent stewardship of donations from the community, St. Mary’s Bank Alliance puts 96 cents of each dollar collected directly into programs serving the community.
St. Mary’s commitment to ending hunger in Arizona goes far beyond providing meals. They have instituted a Hunger 101 program that generates solutions to end hunger and fight childhood obesity. By cultivating conversation and empowering people to take action, Hunger 101 has allowed children and adults of all ages to face the facts about hunger, poverty and food insecurities.
Whether you have extra dollars to spare or a few hours of your time to give, there is plenty of opportunity for you to get involved. Volunteers are the foundation of the Food Bank’s work as extra hands are always needed to help pick up, sort and distribute food. Last year, volunteers put in more than 373,000 hours at St. Mary’s locations throughout the state – effectively doubling the Food Bank’s work force.
To join the fight against hunger, go to azfb.org and look for the section called “Top Issues” in the upper right hand corner of the home page. Once there select the link called “Help Send Hunger Packing.” And remember this triple truth made famous by Buddha: “A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”