A Journey to Ending Childhood Hunger in Alabama
When asked to write this blog post, I thought awhile about what it was I wanted to write about. What would my message be? I would like to think that those who read this get something from it, whether it is inspiration to act or the conviction to pray for those faced with hunger.
First, I would like to share a little bit about myself and how I got to where I am. My journey with the topic of hunger began with Dr. Kate Thornton’s class, Hunger: Causes, Consequences, and Responses. From this class, I was introduced to new ways of thinking, I developed a caring attitude regarding the topic of hunger, and I became more civically engaged. I found myself caring about who my representatives are, and what they are doing about issues such as hunger.
With my curiosity sparked, I continued with the Hunger Studies Minor and was able to participate in the spring Hunger Capstone. The experience was one of the best during my college career. The research, trip to New York, and the friends made are things I will always remember and smile about.
In the same semester, I was having to seek out an internship for the fall semester so I could graduate. I applied for several, and nothing was working out. I knew I wanted to work in a place where I could apply what I had learned about hunger. I remember talking with Kate, frantic about what I was going to do with my life. She walked me downstairs in Spidle Hall, and talked with Dr. Harriet Giles about interning for the End Childhood Hunger in Alabama campaign. Success! I was ecstatic about the opportunity and couldn’t wait for the fall semester to begin.
Now, here I am working with ECHA. I have been doing research for this campaign, and have learned a lot about hunger in Alabama. From my own research and from reading Counties in Crisis: Assessing Quality of Life in Alabama, a study by ASU (http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/wsfa/linkedwebdocs/COUNTIES%20IN%20CRISIS.pdf ), I have learned that hunger is a big issue for our state. Hunger and poverty go hand in hand, and Alabama is affected by both.
There are tons of churches, non-profits, and food pantries in our state. So far, my document is 38 pages long and just lists the agencies available who provide food. However, I have found that the majority of agencies are located in the more financially stable areas. I am using the Counties in Crisis study to determine the financial state of specific counties. For example, Madison County has 51 hunger related agencies in the county. The black belt area of Alabama is the most poverty stricken area in our state, and is home to the two poorest counties in Alabama. These two counties are Wilcox and Perry. These two counties have four agencies providing food each. This includes Alabama DHR.
My first thought when I discovered this was: How backwards is this?! Then, you think about hidden hunger. Those families who do not qualify for assistance. These families can pay their bills, but at the end of the month they may run out of resources to buy food. From the countless articles I have read over the last year, it seems that hidden hunger exists in the more wealthy areas. So, are the agencies and resources really backwards? That is a question I have not been able to answer yet. I do know these agencies are important and make a difference in the communities they serve.
I know people are still going hungry right here in our state. My hope is that through the research I am doing for ECHA, more families can be connected with agencies and the resources they need. I am hoping that this makes a difference in the fight against hunger. My work will not be done after this semester. I am committed to this cause, and hope that throughout my life I can help others in need. I hope to see hunger eradicated in my lifetime. I hope policy issues surrounding hunger are made better. I hope that one day nonprofits and food pantries will not have as many clients walking through the doors. I have hope that we can beat hunger. The food is here. The technology is here. The political will is here. Now is the time to take a stand against hunger. There are many ways to get involved such as advocating, volunteering, contacting your representative, and donating to hunger related agencies. Hunger is solvable, but it will take people working together to make it happen.
Written by Kayla Acklin, an intern for Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute’s End Childhood Hunger in Alabama campaign.