For the campaign's 14th anniversary, Southeast Food Bank will be hosting various events to get community members involved including with a virtual food drive, an in-person food drive, and online campaigning.
Lisa Church, Chief Advancement Officer at Southeast Food Bank explained the purpose of the long-running tradition saying “The whole point [of Hunger Action Month] is really to draw attention to the incidence of hunger in the community where we live. For most people, it's something that they don't think about because they don't see it on a regular basis, but in our area of the state, we have some of the highest hunger rates around,” said Church.
Joining the Feeding America campaign allows the food bank the ability to stretch their finances when providing communities with resources.
“It helps our buying power for example, because we're able to use some of their resources for acquiring food, and so what that actually means is that when someone donates $1 we can turn that dollar into four meals, and of the donations we receive, 96% [go back into programs],” said Church.
Monday, September 17th is also Hunger Action Day. To promote the awareness of food insecurity in the area, the organizations will encourage businesses and community members to wear orange.
“We would like for everybody to kind of rock their orange to draw attention to the fact that there are hungry people in our community and there are things that we can do about it to help them-- then we would ask for folks to take their pictures or take a picture of your work group or your friend group and post it on social media, use the hashtag, #SEMOfoodbanks [and #hungeractionmonth],” said Church.
On September 17th, the bank will also host a mobile food distribution in Sikeston at 1:00PM.
“How that works is that people, who have a need, will come to the food bank and stay in their car and drive in a circle around the food bank underneath our awning on the east side of the building, and we will give them a box of about 20 to 30 pounds of groceries,” said Church.
For this event, and other events throughout the month, The Food Bank will be seeking volunteers to help pack boxes.
“One of the things that we do here at the food bank is we pack a lot of food boxes-- we use volunteers to do that, and because of the pandemic a lot of volunteers weren’t able to come for a while, so on September 16th between one and four o'clock, and September 22nd Wednesday from nine until noon, we're going to put you to work packing boxes,” said Church.
Boxes are supplied to locations such as soup kitchens, domestic violence and homeless shelters, schools, and senior citizen homes.
The food bank will also hold a virtual food drive throughout the month allowing individuals to create their own campaigning platforms.
“Sometimes groups want to hold a food drive to benefit the food bank and we appreciate that very much, but if I took $1 and went to the grocery store, I might on a good day be able to buy two boxes of mac and cheese, but if I took that dollar and I donated it to the food bank, the food bank can take that dollar and stretch that to make for complete meals that consists of both a protein entree, as well as some fruits and vegetables,” said Church.
Church explained that the virtual food drive is the most effective way for people to fundraise for their community food bank.
“If you work at a particular place, your place of work can start a food drive, and each of your employees can go on to that page and start their own individual drives under your workplace, and they can then raise money through platforms like social media, then we use that money to buy food, and again we can make those dollar stretch a little bit further,” said Church.
Outside of the monthly activities for Hunger Action Month, and Hunger Action Monday, Church encourages those able to donate to the cause and their local food bank.
“We are having to spend a lot more money on food this year, post pandemic, so far the first six months of 2021 we’ve spent almost triple the amount that we had spent two years earlier, partly because of higher prices, partly because we’re having to buy more food that meets the need in our area,” said Church.
To make a donation for the Southeast Missouri Food bank, you may visit their website. Those interested in registering as a volunteer box-packer can call Mary Thatch at 573-471-1818 or email email@example.com.