Food insecurity in America affects more than 40 million people. In Fayette County, thousands of families are affected by food insecurity, with over 2,600 households seeking food assistance from the local food pantry, The Well at Sunnyside.
So far this year The Well has served 500 different households who struggle with food security. Chiquita Nash, director of the free store at The Well in Washington Court House, said food insecurity is a national problem and locally, more than half of the city’s students rely on the free and reduced lunch program for food.
“There are over 60 percent of students on free and reduced lunch in city schools so there is a great need for the food pantry in our community,” said Nash in an interview Tuesday.
With the holidays nearing, Nash added that the food pantry at The Well is “critically low.”
In light of World Food Day Oct. 16, Pope Francis spoke Monday at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters, and attributed increasing food insecurity in the world to wars and climate change.
As of 2016, 41.2 million Americans live in food-insecure households, including 28.3 million adults, 12.9 million children, and over 5 million seniors (over age 60).
It wasn’t the first time the pope has spoken about food security and world hunger. Vatican Radio reported in 2015 that Pope Francis told the United Nations that countries must modify their relationships with natural resources by reducing food waste, educating people about wholesome nutrition, and developing attitudes of genuine solidarity.
“Food security must be achieved,” Vatican Radio reported Francis saying during the 2015 speech. “We must begin with our daily lives if we want to change lifestyles, aware that our small gestures can guarantee sustainability and the future of the human family.”
On Tuesday, Nash said a new plan has been created to gain solidarity in the community around the problem of food insecurity. Nash said a food donation competition has been approved between Washington Court House City Schools and Miami Trace Local Schools.
Students in both school districts will be asked to bring non-perishable food items to school to place inside donation bins. The school that collects the most food donations during the food drive will be declared the winner and awarded with a trophy. The starting date of the school food drive competition has not yet been released.
The Well buys food at a discounted rate from Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Nash said, in addition to donations from local churches and the public.
Statistics sourced from United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M. P., Gregory, C., & Singh, A. (2017), Household Food Security in the United States in 2016.
Reach Ashley by phone at (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton