September is Hunger Action Month, and in this post Alaska Food Bank Executive Director Susannah Morgan shares some information about how hunger affects our state.Posted by Susannah Morgan, Food Bank of Alaska Executive Director
September is Hunger Action Month when we shine a light on the thousands of people who are working to reduce hunger in the United States. Closer to home, there are 90,000 Alaskans who are food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. If this was a disease, we would call it an epidemic.
Too many Alaskans worry about feeding their families. According to the Feeding America study Map the Meal Gap, 13.5 percent of us are food insecure. Feeding America, a national hunger-relief charity, reports that 77,000 Alaskans ask for food assistance from a food pantry, soup kitchen or shelter every year. Other facts about hunger from the organization include:
- Hunger is an income issue; people are hungry because they don’t have money for food. The average income of food assistance client is $15,130 a year.
- Sixty-three percent of Alaska’s hungry depend on work, Social Security or unemployment benefits for income. Twelve percent are disabled. That means that most hungry folks are either working, want to work, are too old to work, or are physically incapable of work. Only 5 percent rely upon welfare.
- Hunger can affect everyone, no matter one’s age or ethnic background. Alaska’s hungry are 54 percent White; 28 percent Alaska Native; 10 percent Hispanic; 4 percent Black; and 6 percent Other
- Hunger and homelessness are not the same thing. Only 18 percent of those seeking food assistance are homeless. Homelessness is a very severe problem, but hunger hurts many more Alaskans.
- Hungry folks try to be good citizens. Sixty-nine percent of adults seeking food assistance are registered to vote.
- Finally, food pantries across the state report drops in requests for food assistance during October; many Alaskans spend their PFDs on food and other necessities.
In the next post, I will highlight how the food bank program works in Alaska and some of the nonprofit organizations that provide food assistance across our state.
+++++++From the editor: While giving is a year-round option, Pick. Click. Give. is an easy way to support food assistance programs in your community. Below is a list of organizations that you can make a charitable contribution to when you file online for your 2012 PFD:
- American Red Cross
- Anchorage Senior Activity Center
- Armed Services YMCA of Alaska
- Bean’s Café
- Calypso Farm and Ecology Center
- Catholic Community Service
- Catholic Social Services
- CCS Early Learning
- Central Peninsula Health Foundation
- Chugiak Eagle River Senior Center
- Dare to Care
- Fairbanks Community Food Bank
- Fairbanks Rescue Mission
- Family Promise Mat-Su
- Food Bank of Alaska
- Food Pantry of Wasilla
- Homer Food Pantry
- Homer Senior Citizens
- Joel’s Place
- Kenai Peninsula Food Bank
- Kenai Peninsula United Way
- Lutheran Social Services of Alaska
- Mabel T. Caverly Senior Center
- Palmer Senior Citizens Center
- The Salvation Army
- SeaView Community Services
- Seward Food Pantry
- The Glory Hole
- United Way of Anchorage
- United Way of Southeast Alaska
- United Way of the Tanana Valley
- Wasilla Area Seniors
- Women in Safe Homes