Guest Blog: "Fighting Hunger in Central Jersey"

Eight hundred million people fight hunger, worldwide. Forty-one million are Americans.

 By Aditi Deshmukh

Hunger is a worldwide crisis in desperate need of attention. For people in the U.S. and other first world countries, hunger is an issue that is often overlooked, especially in high income areas, since the suffering of those who struggle with hunger is rarely witnessed. Year round, these people have very little to eat.

Enter United Way, an organization that helps numerous people in poverty around the world get the help they need. United Way operates  in forty-five different countries and territories. Much of United Way’s focus around the world is on children. According to worldhunger.org, 3.1 children die from hunger every year. Children in particular need food to perform well in school and are susceptible to illness, especially communicable diseases, which are often exacerbated by malnutrition.

In Central Jersey, United Way has worked with schools, churches, and many other organizations and has touched the lives of many in need.

They also work with schools and food pantries . Anyone can donate to United Way: large corporations as well as individuals. Last year, United Way of Central Jersey raised 2000 pounds of food for people in need. The food is donated to the Middlesex County Food Bank, so that any non-profit food pantry can receive supplies.

Most people are not aware that, while around the holidays there’s plenty of food to go around, by the time summer comes around, the shelves of food banks are almost bare. Summers are particularly difficult, as the spirit of giving is out of mind for most and children are no longer attending school and thus unable to receive free or reduced priced lunches. That’s why on June 19th of this year, United Way of Central Jersey held its annual food drive at Bahama Breeze in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Many donors attended the two hour long event and donated various nonperishable items. By the end of the event, 22 boxes of food were collected: a total of 1,100 pounds.

When asked about the main motivation for their contributions to the United Way of Central Jersey food drive, most replied with the idea of giving back to the community. One man described the inspiration from his parents, who had come from a different country to the United States and faced financial hardship.

Hearing the staggering statistics and heartbreaking tales of those in such dire need of basic necessities hurts. So what can we do? Participate in one of United Way’s food drives in your area, especially during the summertime. United Way is willing to work with anyone. Give them a call, and they will provide you with bins as well as orange plastic bags with items suitable for donation listed on them. With these resources, you can hold a food drive in your area. Most importantly, spread the word within your community. Many people are able and willing to donate, but aren’t aware of the opportunities they have to do so.

United Way of Central Jersey creates opportunities for a better life by working together with residents, non-profits, businesses, faith-based groups, schools and government. By helping United Way, you will join the fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. Please contact Charmaine Rodriguez at crodriguez@uwcj.org with any donations or click on volunteer on the web site. www.uwcj.org.

Sources:

http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/facts.html

https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/quick-facts-what-you-need-know-about-global-hunger

 

About the Author:

Ms Deshmukh is a sophomore at Edison High School  and is interested in finding ways to address community needs such as hunger, education, and health among children in need.