It is a shameful fact that here in America, the greatest food-producing nation on earth, 49 million Americans frequently worry about where their next meal will come from. To visualize the magnitude of this problem, picture as hungry the entire population of all six New England states. Now, increase that crowd by 9.5 million. According to 2009 US Census Bureau statistics, the number of people living in poverty is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
Here in our apparently thriving region of Vermont and New Hampshire, there are many families and individuals who struggle to make ends meet. At Willing Hands, we are reminded of this truth every day. Many of our recipients are the working poor and their children, or seniors who have worked all their lives and now find that Social Security income does not stretch as far as they expected it would. Virtually all of the organizations that receive our food donations report that the number of clients they serve and the intensity of their need continues to expand. For more information on Hunger in Vermont, watch the video below ****
On the flip side:
It is our good fortune to live in an area brimming with opportunities to eat well. Our local grocers, farmers, bakers and chefs are expert producers of top quality food. The majority of us have ready access to this incredible abundance. The shelves of our grocery stores and farmstands are stocked full with a wide variety of appealing, nutritious food. In continuing to meet the high standards that we have come to expect, our food producers and grocers inevitably generate surplus. And they hate to see it go to waste. This year, 26% of our total pick ups were from local farms and the Willing Hands garden.
Willing Hands provides the critical link between this surplus and our neediest neighbors.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of our local food donors, the professionalism of our local social service providers, and the financial support of many indiviudals, clubs, churches, businesses and foundations, the staff and volunteers of Willing Hands are working every day, all year long, to pick up this food and deliver it to those most in need.
Together we provide one small but effective solution to a very big challenge.
**** To learn more about issues of hunger affecting Vermonters please follow this link to a video prepared by the Vermont Foodbank. Willing Hands is proud to partner with the Vermont Foodbank to help them distribute their produce to Vermonters in our region.