Hunger is closer to us than we may think. Back in 2011, it was brought to our attention that Winston-Salem is one of the leading areas in America in hunger. This piece of information opened the eyes of many Winston Salem residents and, surely, many of them asked, “Why? How did this happen?” We realized hunger doesn’t exist only in third-world countries, but it can be our next-door neighbor.
Hunger knows no boundaries, nor does it discriminate. The hunger crisis permeates all cultures, races, neighborhoods, and families of all socioeconomic statuses. Being hunger-stricken affects one’s mood, development, learning, and behavior, and this is especially true among children.
But hunger is combatable. In order to work more passionately towards fighting hunger, we must be more enlightened about what it looks like in our county.
HOW MANY ARE HUNGRY IN WINSTON-SALEM?
As of 2018 and 2019, 25% of children in Forsyth County are living in poverty, making it difficult for them to acquire proper nutrition. 15.5% of residents suffer from food insecurity—the lack of access to affordable and nutritious food—while 21% of children deal with food insecurity. There are a number of factors that contribute to the hunger crisis: affordable housing, low income, access to health care, and other monthly payments that really pull at one’s income. With grocery prices being so high today, buying quality food becomes difficult, especially when one has a larger family size.
HUNGER IS AFFECTING OUR CHILDREN
Being hunger-stricken hinders our children from being their greatest. Not only do hungry children always have to wonder where their next meal is coming from, they also suffer mental and physical effects of hunger. When their developing brains are not getting the required amounts of nutrition, their learning is affected, as well as language development, behavior, and motor skills. Hungry children have a difficult time concentrating in academic environments, because of their lives at home and malnutrition. In the classroom, they have a high risk of failure because their brains lack vitality, which will help them thrive. Physically, hungry children have to deal with a higher risk of being hospitalized and suffering from health conditions, due to their low immune systems caused by a lack of nutrition. No child or family deserves to live with hunger or the consequences that it comes with. Thankfully, this issue can be solved through the knowledge, empathy, and compassion of others.
LOCAL PROGRAMS THAT HELP
With Winston-Salem being one of the top cities in hunger, it is no that surprise our community has various creative ways to help alleviate the challenge. These programs below are designed to assist hungry children and families:
- H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem. The acronym stands for “Help our people eat.” This is a volunteer-based foundation that helps bring weekend meals to children who are at risk of hunger. They deliver Saturday and Sunday meals to hungry homes, using trucks, vans, and shuttles with the H.O.P.E. logo. They prepare fresh meals weekly.
- Second Harvest Food Bank. The people here provide food assistance through local partnerships while educating the community on hunger and how to eliminate it.
- “Think Orange” Campaign. Established last year, the “Think Orange” campaign was proposed by Mayor Allen Joines to combat hunger and food insecurity in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. The name of the campaign was inspired by the color story of Hunger Action Month (September), which is orange and, therefore, has become the symbolic color of fighting hunger. This campaign has major initiatives, such as increasing participation in summer feeding programs, promoting the use of SNAP (food stamps) at local farmers’ markets, providing fresh food for H.O.P.E, creating a hot meals after-school program for children, and more.
Hunger is a prevailing issue, but our help and active support can be even more prevalent and eliminate the hunger we see around us. If you feel led to feed hungry children and families, donate to your local food bank, become an advocate for hunger, or volunteer for an organization that feeds hungry families. Food is often wasted and taken for granted. So, for those who aren’t dealing with hunger, use your blessings to give to someone who can benefit from them in more ways than one.