Everyone in the newsroom knows when it’s a “food bank day,” because I change into jeans and a t-shirt before leaving work so I can go and pack boxes of food and stock the pantry at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. It’s one of my favorite parts of my week!
I think most people would agree that access to food is a basic human right. It’s not optional. We need food to not only survive, but to thrive. The quality and quantity of the food we eat can impact our physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Growing up in east Africa, it was impossible to leave home without seeing hunger. And since moving back to the U.S., I’ve found that hunger is still a serious problem in this community, but it may not always be as visible.
It breaks my heart that something so basic is still such a concern for so many families. And it amazes me how many people fail to realize that we are all just a few missed paychecks away from needing help.
Yesterday, Feeding America released a study and an interactive map documenting hunger in America, called Map the Meal Gap. You can break the statistics down by state, county or areas served by a specific food bank. For example, in the 16 counties served by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, more than 50,000 people are considered food insecure. And in Black Hawk County alone, it’s estimated that an additional $6.8 million was needed to meet food needs in 2009.
They’re also using the hashtag #mealgap if you want to join the conversation on Twitter.