2017-09-07 / Top News

Take action against hunger in September

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY


Volunteers sort potatoes at the food bank’s first Family Volunteer Day in June. Another Family Volunteer Day takes place at the Fort Myers warehouse from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9. Call 334-7007 first, as weather conditions due to Hurricane Irma might force rescheduling. 
COURTESY PHOTOS Volunteers sort potatoes at the food bank’s first Family Volunteer Day in June. Another Family Volunteer Day takes place at the Fort Myers warehouse from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9. Call 334-7007 first, as weather conditions due to Hurricane Irma might force rescheduling. COURTESY PHOTOS Maurice Bonecutter, 91, won’t need a reminder that September is Hunger Action Month nationwide or that Thursday, Sept. 14, is Hunger Action Day.

The long-time volunteer for the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida already works in the warehouse at the food bank’s Fort Myers distribution center on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Hunger Action Month is important,” Mr. Bonecutter said. “It’s the bread of life, and we all need to be provided for.”

Mr. Bonecutter has been helping the food bank provide for others since 2011. When asked why he volunteers, he replied: “Why not?” he replied. Wise words from a wise man.


Volunteer Maurice Bonecutter, 91, sorts bread at the Harry Chapin Food Bank. Volunteer Maurice Bonecutter, 91, sorts bread at the Harry Chapin Food Bank. Hunger Action Month was started 10 years ago by the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks, including the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The goal is to raise hunger awareness and mobilize people to take action to fight hunger in their communities. Hunger Action Day, Thursday, Sept. 14, is the focal point of Hunger Action Month.

In the five-county area the Harry Chapin Food Bank serves, nearly 160,000 people are food insecure. That includes about 50,000 children. In addition, about two-thirds of public school children are eligible for or receive free or reduced-priced meals from their school because of their families’ low income.

“One in seven residents of Southwest Florida will go hungry this year,” said Richard LeBer, food bank president and CEO. “The Harry Chapin Food Bank provided more than 22 million pounds of food to feed them last year, thanks to the generosity of our friends and neighbors,” he added. “Hunger Action Month is when we call everyone’s attention to this issue. We hope it will build awareness and mobilize action to help us end hunger.”


Beatrice Pizarro Beatrice Pizarro Volunteering in the food bank’s warehouse or at a food bank mobile pantry is only one way members of the community can help during Hunger Action Month. The Harry Chapin Food Bank has a web page that features a daily calendar of other easy-to-do ways to raise awareness and take action. Access it through www.harrychapinfoodbank.org and click on the orange Hunger Action Month banner on the home page.

Ideas include: Hold a food drive in your neighborhood or business; collect your spare change for a month and donate it to the food bank; sign up for a food bank tour; put the Hunger Action Month calendar in your church bulletin or post at your office and more.

“This is a time of critical need for many families, since the additional costs of returning to school coincide with the time of year when many families experience economic hardship due to the seasonal nature of their employment,” said Ashley Jones, director of social services for The Salvation Army Naples Regional Coordinate. The Salvation Army-Naples is a Harry Chapin Food Bank partner agency.

“With the current economic conditions and higher rent costs, coupled with the rising costs of food, assistance is more important than ever for those facing financial hardships,” Ms. Jones said. Here are some of her ideas on how to take action during Hunger Action Month:

¦ For business leaders: Consider how you can contribute your time and resources to hunger relief efforts for the promotion of a socially just, economically strong Florida.

¦ For educators: Explore how you can become further involved in efforts to increase nutrition education for your students to promote a healthier, higher-performing student body.

¦ For individuals and families: Ask your elected leaders to consider the issue of food insecurity and its possible solutions when selecting policies and making decisions for Florida.

Finally, consider wearing orange — the color for Hunger Action Month — as often as you can throughout the month. ¦

Grab a plate

The symbol for Hunger Action Month is an empty plate. The Harry Chapin Food Bank invites people to email photos of themselves and friends or family holding a paper plate, completing the sentence: “On an empty stomach, I can’t ___________.” On the other side of the plate, complete the sentence: “But I can _____________ to help end hunger.” Post it on your Facebook page. Email it to fighthunger@harrychapinfoodbank.com so it can be posted to the food bank’s Facebook page, too.

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