More than 50,000 hunger-relief organizations have joined together in an effort to move individuals, communities, corporations and policymakers to take part in the June 3 National Hunger Awareness Day. Sponsored by America’s Second Harvest – the nation’s largest hunger relief organization – the event will allow religious communities businesses and government organizations the chance to get involved in the fight against hunger.
The Presbyterian Church USA and the Conference of Catholic Bishops are two of the major Christian sponsors for the event.
“We’re hoping Presbyterians will identify the activities that are taking place in their own communities and be active in them,” said the Rev. Gary Cook, coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. “If there aren’t activities scheduled for their communities, they can encourage their local food pantries or soup kitchens to mark the day with a public event.”
According to Cook, “Over 90 percent of Presbyterian congregations support hunger ministries in their communities.”
Cook and several other religious leaders, hunger relief leaders and manufacturers took part in an organizing meeting called by Second Harvest in Washington DC.
"To make a real difference in the lives of hungry Americans, it will take the hard work of the leaders here today and the millions of people that they represent,” said Robert Forney, president and CEO of America’s Second Harvest, which runs a network of more than 200 regional food banks.
Last year, Second Harvest distributed nearly 2 billion pounds of food to more than 23 million hungry Americas, including 9 million children.
Last year’s National Hunger Awareness Day, also held in June, helped thousands of Americans needing food assistance, including working families afflicted by what the government calls “food insecurity”: having limited or uncertain access to food. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, the number of households needing food aid has risen by about 1.5 million since 1999, to more than 12 million. The increase is attributed largely to unemployment, inadequate employee and retirement benefits, and higher expenses for housing, utilities and medical care.