It was only by chance an article about the commodities project held each month at the Albany United Methodist Church I wrote last week was published in the Ledger the first week of Hunger Action Month.
The article had been on my to-do list for some time, at least as far back as spring, before school had ended for the summer. It remained in the back of my mind, one of those stories I realized I could do when I got around to because it would remain an ongoing issue. The fact that the story came out during Hunger Action Month was merely coincidental.
But the timing of Hunger Action Month and the publication of the commodities story was only the first coincidence. The same day the story appeared in the Ledger, I received an email from Pastor Bendi Burgin with the Albany Ministerial Alliance saying the food pantry at the church is running low, as are funds for the pantry. Her message appears on this page as a letter to the editor.
I found out for myself just how low food for the pantry was about noon last Wednesday when we stopped by the church to drop off a few items for the rummage sale. I won’t say the cupboards were literally bare but I will say I had never seen so few food items on the shelves. I was told just the day before 14 bags of food had been given to people who had come to the church for help.
Those 14 bags of food come nowhere near helping all the people in Gentry County facing food insecurity. According to 2010 statistics from the organization Feeding America, 950 individuals in Gentry County are food insecure, which means they have limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food. Of that 950 people, 23.5 percent or 380 of them are children.
The food pantry isn’t the only ministry at the church that’s seen an increase in needs recently. The number of youngsters qualifying for the Backpack Buddies program, which provides weekend meals and snacks, is also on the rise. More than 50 students in the Albany R-III School District benefit from the Backpack Buddies program.
Hunger is here but we can do something about it. A few extra dollars, a can of peanut butter, a case of soup or a few hours of your time can go a long way.
It’s Hunger Action Month, the food pantry is low and the timing of the two is more than just a coincidence.