Friday, April 12, 2013

Help Fight Hunger

United Way
of Greater Philadelphia
and Southern New Jersey
Live United - United Way
Advocate Image/Leader
More often than not, a simple cardboard box doesn't scream hope. But when you fill that box with the staples that far too many of us take for granted – canned vegetables, cereals, rice, juice, etc. – that simple cardboard box becomes a welcomed help when times are tough.
Years ago, the sight of hungry children in far away places would tug at our emotions, urging us to make donations to provide food for those in need. Today, however, we don't have to look overseas to find people who can't afford to put food on their tables. In fact, one of the nation's hungriest congressional districts is right here in southeastern Pennsylvania and includes the City of Chester and parts of Philadelphia. And, just across the river, the City of Camden – the nation's most impoverished city – continues to experience high rates of poverty with two out of every five residents living below the national poverty line.
In just a few weeks, 500 volunteers will participate in our 2013 United2Feed program, giving their time to prepare 60,000 meal kits for families and individuals throughout our region. In a space generously provided by Sun Center Studios, a premier film and television production facility, this event will allow our community food partners to provide up to 80,000 pounds of food to those in need. Kudos to our United2Feed sponsors – CSL Behring, Independence Blue Cross, AmerisourceBergen, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Enterprise Holdings, Inc., Kimberly-Clark-Chester Operations, PECO, Target and Vanguard. Their support does more than give people something to eat; it gives people opportunities to thrive because we know that:
  • A child can't perform well in school when he or she is hungry.
  • Working adults aren't necessarily earning enough money to cover household bills and groceries.
  • Older adults often choose buying medicine over buying nutritious food.

The issue of food insecurity is an all-too-real concern as more and more people are relying on agencies to help them get by. One of our community food partners, SHARE Food Program, regularly works with families in need. One SHARE client, an unemployed single mother of three, said receiving a food box was like being a child on Christmas morning because it helped provide breakfast for her children. Recently, a married couple sought support from SHARE when both had their hours reduced at work, therefore seeing a decrease in income. The two have been overwhelmed at the amount of food available to them and the fact that strangers came together to help create meal kits for them and their two children. As a way to express their appreciation, the couple vow to volunteer and help others once their situation improves.
It doesn't take much to make difference. You can donate food, advocate for policies affecting hunger or volunteer your time at a local food pantry. Any of these options makes you United2Feed and gives you the power to create impact that can make a simple cardboard box something extraordinary.

Jill Michal
President and CEO
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

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