Eight ways to fight hunger

By Steve Smith
Posted 5/2/12

Kathy Underhill

Special to Metrowest

Twenty-five percent of all Colorado working families don’t earn enough to provide for their family’s basic needs. And yet, many people …

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Eight ways to fight hunger


Kathy Underhill
Special to Metrowest

Twenty-five percent of all Colorado working families don’t earn enough to provide for their family’s basic needs. And yet, many people in Colorado still think hunger affects only the poorest people, like those in third world countries. That’s not the case. In 2010, 900,000 Coloradoans were impacted by hunger, and the greatest percentage of people who are hungry in our state are children under the age of five.
    It’s easy to believe that hunger is an issue that goes away once a person has a plate of food, but the truth is that the long-term impact of hunger and poor nutrition on children, families and our communities is significant. For one, hungry children can’t learn.  They struggle to focus and hunger lowers their desire to be in class.  As a result of hunger, teens are more likely to experience psychological, social and behavioral problems. Adults who experienced hunger as children and teens face greater difficulty obtaining stable employment and are at greater risk of illness as adults. 
    Over the last six months, Hunger Free Colorado has worked to raise awareness of this growing problem through its Hungry for Change 10,000 plate campaign. We exceeded our goal and collected more than 13,000 paper plates from kids, families, professionals and hunger partners who joined the campaign by writing down or drawing their messages about fighting hunger on a plate. On the Pepsi Center over the holiday season Kroenke Sports posted a giant plate, fork and knife in support of the campaign. You may have seen Hunger Free Colorado at the 9Cares Colorado Shares food drive.  Maybe you filled out a plate at Kaiser Permanente. These are examples of how our community is coming together with the goal to increase awareness about the issue of hunger in Colorado. 
    We believe the issue of hunger is solvable. Federal dollars are available to help end hunger through programs such as the Food Assistance Program (known nationally as SNAP/Food Stamps) but the majority of eligible households are not participating in this important program.
    We’re working to change that, and you can help be part of the solution, too. Below are eight things you can do today to help solve the problem of hunger.
• Call your member of Congress. Urge your representatives to support legislation helping people struggling with hunger. Check Hunger Free Colorado’s website for action alerts and updates.
• Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about hunger in your community.
• Have a hunger expert over.  Invite a representative from a Colorado anti-hunger organization to speak to your community group, church, or civic organization. We have stories and insights to share.
• Teach your children that healthy food matters.  Cook a meal with your child and explain that not all families in Colorado have access to nutritious food.
• Pack your own lunch. If you usually buy your lunch, brown bag it one day and donate the money you would have spent eating out to end hunger in Colorado.
• Submit stories and information about hunger and poverty-related issues to your school’s religious groups or social clubs websites.  
• Spread the word about the Hunger Free Hotline.  The Hunger Free Hotline is a toll-free number through which people can get information on food assistance in Colorado.  Toll-free: 855-855-4626
• Take some time.  Volunteer to help end hunger with a community based organization.   
    We can all do our part to solve the problem of hunger in our state today.  Can we count on you?

Kathy Underhill is executive director of Hunger Free Colorado, Colorado’s leading anti-hunger organization leveraging the power of collaboration, system change, policy change and social change to end hunger in Colorado. To learn more, visit www.hungerfreecolorado.org.


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