The Valdosta Daily Times
The effects of hunger go far beyond the pain in your stomach.
In 2011, the Center for American Progress released a study with the goal of determining the cost of hunger. Titled “Hunger in America: Suffering We All Pay For,” the study encompassed a broad swath of detrimental effects hunger has on a community.
There’s children, for starters. Hunger weakens your immune system. Children who live in hungry and “food insecure” homes “get sick more frequently, miss school more often, and perform worse in school.” These students are also more likely to struggle with cognitive impairment, show antisocial behaviors, and be in need of medical and mental-health interventions.
Between the cost accrued treating physical and mental illnesses caused or worsened by hunger, the charitable contributions spent addressing hunger then could go towards other causes and the value of “increased poor educational outcomes and lost lifetime earnings,” the yearly national hunger bill comes to $167.5 billion dollars.
“Hunger is something some people suffer but everyone pays for,” said Eliza McCall, public relations director for Second Harvest of South Georgia, the regional food bank. “The cost to Lowndes County alone is over $56 million a year. Malnourished children don’t learn as well; they don’t end up with as good an education.”
While food insecurity affects every community, rural communities are hit especially hard. Long distance means affordable food is further away.
“The irony is that we’re in the middle of this rich agricultural area, this agricultural hub, but our 30-county service area has the highest average of food insecurity in the state,” McCall said.
The impact Second Harvest makes is bolstered by the support of numerous local businesses.
“I can’t possibly mention the more than 100 businesses that support us. ... They contribute indispensable financial support, and they also contribute by volunteering and hosting events, advocating on our behalf to others in the community. We get exposure to people who might not otherwise know that hunger is in their backyard.”
Without local businesses, Second Harvest would be more constrained in the help they could offer. Local businesses like local chemical manufacturer CJB Industries.
Along with monetary donations, CJB buys all of its employees a rubber duck every year in Second Harvest’s annual Duck Derby.
“We started donating to Second Harvest in 2005,” said Jeana Beeland with CJB.
“We knew Frank (Richards, Second Harvest CEO) from Leadership Lowndes and we knew how dedicated he was, and saw the progress he was able to make with Second Harvest. We like to support it because it’s local, it’s well run and everyone has to eat.”
Second Harvest also benefits from companies donating product, like Winn-Dixie, which donated 17,354 pounds of product this past winter, or Sunset Farms Food, which donates a couple of thousand pounds each year.
“It’s our way of helping those who are less fortunate,” said Tom Carroll with Sunset Farms. “With our business being food, we help them out with surplus product donations. Second Harvest’s Food Bank is helping people that need help. It’s amazing what they can turn a dollar of donation into.”
Along with monetary and product donations, some companies simply give of their time.
Take Wild Adventures, which, on Wednesday, was at Second Harvest packing disaster-relief boxes.
“Our team really looks forward to it every year,” said Matt Duda, Wild Adventures director of sales and marketing. “In the wake of Oklahoma, it really shows you that we can have an impact.”
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