Ending Hunger Today and Into the Future

Aid agencies plan for those in need.

By Michael Flood
Michael Flood is the executive director of the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. Website: www.lafoodbank.org

Los Angeles Times

November 20, 2004

The Thanksgiving holiday traditionally marks the time of year when we focus on those people who are less fortunate in our community. Every year, thousands of families and individuals provide help to charities that serve people in need during the holiday season. This year is no different, although it appears that the number of people who need help continues to grow.

Last summer, a report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research provided a snapshot of people who face hunger throughout Los Angeles County. Based on data gathered as part of the California Health Interview Survey, UCLA researchers found that 775,000 adults in Los Angeles County are "food insecure" — they frequently cannot afford to put food on the table.

There are two main fronts in the fight against hunger: programs that fight hunger today and public policies that can end hunger in the future. Food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other charities are on the front lines providing food to adults, children and senior citizens who need assistance today. Federal nutrition programs, such as food stamps and the school lunch and breakfast programs, are also crucial in the fight against hunger. Support for all of these programs is critical to help the people who require food assistance today.

Yet, in a nation where nearly 35 million Americans struggle to put food on their tables, a more comprehensive long-term approach is urgently required. America's Second Harvest and other national anti-hunger organizations have developed the Blueprint to End Hunger in America. If implemented, the recommendations of this report, which focus on the corporate, labor and charitable sectors, as well as government, would cut hunger in half by 2010 and put our nation on the path of ending hunger in the United States.

While we advocate for these public policy changes, we need to continue to combat the problem of hunger today. The Los Angeles Regional Foodbank has developed "a season for sharing" to highlight the food, funding and volunteer needs of local agencies that are providing help to their neighbors this holiday season and year-round.

Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca once said, "The day that hunger is eradicated from the Earth, there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world." As we work toward that great day, let's continue to reach out and help those in need right now.