This week, as families across America prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Obama Administration is asking Americans to think about their neighbors who are struggling to put food on the table. Although we are the richest nation in the world, the food security report released last Monday by USDA’s Economic Research Service indicates that hunger is a serious and growing problem in the United States. In 2008, more than 49 million people, including more than 16 million children, were at risk of going hungry in America, up from 35 million in 2007.
President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have made addressing the issue of hunger in America a high priority of this Administration. For example, the President has committed to ending childhood hunger in this country by 2015. Secretary Vilsack recently stated that “it is time for America to get very serious about food security and hunger.”
In addition to government efforts, however, we must also work together to address the problem in our own communities. The families, children and individuals that worry about where their next meal will come from, or have to skip a few meals, could live right next door to you. Everyone has a role to play. In this spirit, the Corporation for National and Community Service is launching the United We Serve: Feed a Neighbor initiative this week in collaboration with the White House and USDA. The purpose of the initiative is to raise public awareness of hunger issues and ask Americans to help ensure that their neighbors have access to nutritional food this winter and throughout the year.
There are many ways for Americans from all walks of life to help combat hunger through service. Serve.gov allows visitors to search for local volunteer opportunities. In addition, the USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has prepared a volunteer toolkit in conjunction with the Food and Nutrition Service. This toolkit outlines a wide variety of opportunities and resources that can help ordinary people fight hunger in their communities.
You can access the toolkit online here. As we think about everything we are thankful for this week, let us also remember those who are less fortunate, and do what we can to help end hunger in America.