Everyone should have a holiday
Rep. Ronald Grantland, Guest Columnist
Thanksgiving dinner is the greatest meal of the year. There’s nothing better than fellowship with family and friends while enjoying an abundant feast. Unfortunately for many, the holiday represents merely another day without food to eat or the necessary care items. As we enjoy the upcoming holiday season, we must not forget that thousands across our state are going hungry every day, even during the holidays.
Some may think of hunger as a problem reserved to third world and underdeveloped countries, but it’s a big problem here at home, too. According to the Alabama Food Bank Association, twelve percent of Alabamians receive food stamps, which equates to roughly 79 cents per meal. Plus, thirteen percent of the state population is “food insecure,” meaning that they are not assured of being able to obtain a nutritionally adequate diet without assistance.
Hunger is a problem that affects the most vulnerable among us. Out of the 800,000 Alabamians currently living below the poverty level, many are seniors and children. Nearly one-fourth of Alabama’s seniors live below the poverty line, and food requests by seniors have risen nearly ten percent in the last year. Studies show that one out of every four people in line at soup kitchens across the nation is a child.
We cannot continue to allow our fellow Alabamians to go hungry, especially children and the elderly. The holiday season is a time to reflect upon our own blessings, and a time to help those less fortunate. There are ways that we can all fight hunger, but it is important to help where it is needed the most and can be used most effectively.
The Alabama Food Bank Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing food and other household and personal care items to those in need across Alabama. The association is affiliated with America’s Second Harvest, the largest food bank organization in the country. The association is prominent throughout the state with regional offices in Muscle Shoals, Huntsville, Birmingham,Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Selma, Mobile, Auburn, and Dothan.
Each food bank receives donations from surplus supermarket items, unmarketable food items from food companies, and food from local food drives. The banks also receive a USDA commodity through the Department of Education. The food bank then distributes to churches, shelters, community and senior centers, and food pantries.
Last year, the Montgomery Area Food Bank distributed over thirteen million pounds of food to citizens of south central Alabama.
Another great way to help the hungry is to participate in food drives. Churches, schools, and other civic organizations usually hold annual food drives during the holidays.
While fighting hunger is often thrust to the forefront of our minds during the holiday season, the fight against hunger doesn’t end after the holidays are over.
It is important that we continue to help those in need throughout the year as well.
As you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, remember those less fortunate. By donating just a few cans or a few dollars, we can all help to ensure that every Alabamian has the opportunity to enjoy the greatest meal of the year. And that’s something to be thankful for.