By Ralph E. Moore Jr.
Special to the AFRO
Many of us can make our hunger go away with a walk to the refrigerator or a trip to the grocery store or a fast food restaurant; it is not so easy for far too many people in this country and others around the globe. There are approximately 7.6 to 7.8 billion people in the world today. Of that number, 2,755 are billionaires worth $13.1 trillion dollars, according to Forbes magazine, the known keeper of such information. And just for the record, there are 46.8 million millionaires. That is a lot of wealth (with 664 billionaires in the United States alone and 20.27 million millionaires). Wealth is steadily growing while hunger stubbornly grows, too. Yes, the rich are getting richer but the hungry are getting hungrier.
The question is why. Why is there such concentrated, ever-growing wealth and so much increasing poverty and food insecurity at the same time? What’s wrong with this picture?
One need only look in the faces of starving children around the world to be confused and confounded by the situation. How can this be a world where children with bloated bellies from kwashiorkor (severe malnutrition) exist in the same world as people with multiple houses, cars, boats and expensive artwork—representative of more money than they will ever be able to spend? It’s not their stomachs as much as their bank accounts and their collection of possessions that are swelling from excess.
It is easier to find a hungry person than it is to locate a wealthy one. The needy greatly outnumber the well off. Twenty three countries around the world have the highest rates of hunger emergencies including: Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. While here in the United States, what is called food insecurity in polite society, hunger, is arguably highest in the state of Louisiana (25%) then Arkansas (23%) and then Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Washington, DC all report hungry families of 22% (almost one in every four).
And according to the anti-poverty organization, Save the Children, Black and Hispanic Maryland families are four times more likely to be hungry than White families in this state. Bear in mind, Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the nation.
The face of hunger in America is actually the sad face of a child. There are approximately 17 million hungry children in the United States today. Actually, 22,000,000 rely on the free or reduced school lunch program to eat while some can also participate in the free breakfast program at schools where it is available. But with so many children, when schools are closed, their chances to eat during out of school hours run from limited to chancy to non-existent.
So many starving children is shameful. Hungry children cannot concentrate in school, cannot properly develop cognitively or physically. We must feed the children and save the children.
Incidentally, there are a vast number of senior citizens who are hungry, also. Fixed incomes and distant relatives keep so many food-insecure or just plain hungry. And a couple of additional populations experiencing serious hunger are the disabled and the homeless.
It is heart wrenching to know there are so many among us who do not have enough to eat and do not know where they are going to get it. The St. Vincent de Paul Society, a long- established provider of community services to those in need, tells us one in four residents of Baltimore City is food insecure.
It is just one organization one can support to help alleviate hunger (vincentbaltimore.org). Then of course, the saintly Bea Gaddy (some call her the Mother Teresa of Baltimore) still blesses the Family Centers bearing her name in East Baltimore. Run by Gaddy’s daughter, Cynthia Brooks, the Bea Gaddy Family Centers, at 425 N. Chester Street, helps people all year around (call 410-563-2749 for food and other assistance).
Most mosques, synagogues and churches of all denominations have food pantries that dispense groceries or soup kitchens that will serve a meal, especially those in the Black and Brown communities. The Rev. Heber Brown III, the pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and founder of the Black Church Food Security Network, will know where the feeding centers in our city are. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. or at 410-435-0851.
Then there’s the Baltimore Weekend Backpack Program that feeds hungry children in Baltimore City. During out-of-school hours such as weekends, the Weekend Backpack Program provides enough meals for a family of four for the three-day weekend, or four days when Monday is a holiday. The organization’s website is www.weekendbackpacks.org and their phone number is 410-559-6455. The program will graciously accept your help.
And finally, If you want to feed hungry people in our state, help the Maryland Food Bank. A local paper editorial on the day before Thanksgiving quotes the President and CEO of the Food Bank, Carmen Del Guercio, extensively. Entitled “Taking stock wins, losses in Md.’s fight against hunger,”
In a recent editorial, “Taking stock wins, losses in Md’s fight against hunger,” Maryland Food Bank President and CEO, Carmen Del Guercio discussed the difficulty of sticking to its mission established 42 years ago, in the midst of COVID. Inflation causes the price of food to increase, while, in some cases, causing the size of donations to decrease. And the organization is dependent on volunteers, who are terrific, but are also growing weary in the thick of the pandemic. relying on volunteers, though terrific, even in the thick of the pandemic finds faithful volunteers growing weary, the CEO-President says.
The Maryland Food Bank can also use your time and/or your money. You can go on their website www.mdfoodbank.org and donate with a credit or debit card or send a check to Maryland Food Bank, P.O. Box 17379, Baltimore, MD 21297-1379.
So, help those who help the hungry. Hunger is painful. So please do what you can to make this very real pain go away—the sooner the better.
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