HUNGER-FREE LANCASTER COUNTY
by Terrence Pearson
Although not many people are aware, hunger is quite a huge issue in Lancaster County just like it is in a lot of the country. Hunger Free Lancaster County is a coalition of more than 30 non-profit, private, faith-based, government, and grassroots organizations coming together to complete one mission: building a hunger-free Lancaster County by creating a nutritious, accessible and sustainable food system. It is the goal of Hunger-Free Lancaster County to ensure sustainable access to three healthy meals a day for every Lancastrian by 2018. They believe that this is a very achievable goal given the fact that the average cost to feed one person, one meal in Lancaster County is $3.07, it is not an insurmountable goal.
Retired Senator Mike Brubaker is the new chairman of Hunger-Free Lancaster County. Brubaker stated “I am honored to have been asked to lead this initiative and am eager to get to work. Hunger is a solvable problem and as a seventh generation entrepreneur Brubaker from Lancaster County, I am positive that we can show the rest of the country how we do it!” He went on to also say that “Hunger harms our children, hurts our seniors and stresses our families. It is a community problem with huge economic consequences – the costs of hunger are estimated to exceed 1 billion dollars annually in Pennsylvania.”
The project is also fully supported by Feeding America, which is the national anti-hunger organization. Hunger-Free Lancaster County relied upon their tested methodologies and their data to generate target goals. Feeding America has recognized the efforts of Hunger-Free Lancaster County as a national pilot program aligned with their mission to ‘close the meal gap.’
As mentioned earlier, people aren’t really aware of the fact that there is hunger in Lancaster County. In reality, there are more than 10 percent of Lancaster County residents a bit more than 60,000 people are “food-insecure”, which means that they do not have consistent access to adequate food. This equates to almost 7.2 million meals short each year.
- A remarkable 194,917 additional school breakfasts were served in Lancaster County in the 2015-2016 school year for a total of 2,042,193, with many more schools adopting the effective alternative and kid-friendly strategies such as “Breakfast After the Bell” breakfast smoothies and “Grab and Go” kiosks.
- The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank grew by 28% the amount of fresh produce, dairy and protein it distributed in Lancaster, a whopping 1,597,024 pounds of wholesome food.
- The Lutheran Camping Corporation of Central Pennsylvania established a 40-acre “Growing Project” at the Wittel Farm Retreat in Elizabethtown, dedicated to growing fresh vegetables to donate to Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the Lancaster County Council of Churches. Using all volunteer labor, the group hopes to harvest 13,400 pounds of produce, enough for 11,166 meals.
There are multiple ways to volunteer for Hunger-Free Lancaster County including:
- Sort, pack, and distribute food for families in need with the Central PA Food Bank
- Prepare and serve a community meal with the Lancaster Council of Churches
- Get your hands dirty planting, weeding, and harvesting at Wittel Farm
- Go gleaning at a local farm
- Schedule a shift to sort and stock clothes at the LCC Clothing Bank
- Organize, pack, and distribute Power Packs during the summer months
- Lend pro bono professional or technical skills to CAP’s Atlas Initiative
Not only are there the above volunteer opportunities, but you can also advocate, educate, donate or fundraise, foodraise, and sponser. These are all great ways to help out this organization.
You can sign up to volunteer as an individual or a group at www.hungerfreelancaster.org.
SPOTTED LANTERN FLY ALERT
Hunger-Free Lancaster County is concerned about the Spotted Lanternfly because it could be devastating to Lancaster County’s abundant fruit trees. Help your community by identifying and reporting sightings.
“STAMP OUT HUNGER” UNITED STATES POTAL SERVICE FOOD DRIVE
Please leave shelf stable, unopened foods out near your mailboxes. Your postal carrier will pick them up. The food collected will be distributed to 30 local, Lancaster County food pantries.
INVEST IN SCHOOL BREAKFAST PROGRAM
Breakfast is an education issue. When children struggle with hunger, it’s harder for them to learn. Research shows that when children get school breakfast, they feel better, they learn more and they grow up stronger. The governor’s plan is a wise investment. Let’s work together to make sure every child has the food he or she needs to stay focused and ready to learn.