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Hunger In A City Of Plenty

Hunger In A City Of Plenty image
Parent Issue
Month
February
Year
1987
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

Most people are content to ease their conscience on the hunger problem by throwing some spare change n a bucket, donating a can for a holiday food basket, or serving a free meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas. These actions, while necessary and admirable, dont address the root problems of hunger. Hunger isnt a problem only during the holidays. It exists year round, is found in Ann Arbor, and is increasing here at a rapid rate. Under the Reagan Administration, cuts in Federal and State food programs have hurt people in Ann Arbor. Cuts in the Federal food stamp program mean 733 fewer Washtenaw County residents received aid in 1985 as compared to 1984. Eliminating school breakfast funds mean 200 low income Ann Arbor children no longer receive a free or reduced-price meal before they start their school day. To meet these new and compelling needs, local agencies have been forced to piek up the slack created by the Federal government - so people can eat. Local food programs have become a necessary and ongoing food source instead of an occasional emergency resource. 1986 saw a 10 % increase in the number of individuals using the six largest local food programs. This includes a 4 % increase in the number of families forced to use alternative ways to make end's meet. The Ann Arbor City Council is active in meeting the needs of hungry people in two basic ways. The Mayor's Committee on Poverty was formed to demónstrate the extent of hunger n Ann Arbor and to identify strategies to meet these needs. This evolved into the Emergency Needs Committee which meets quarterly to confirm needs and to oversee program effectiveness. The city also provides funds to loca! food programs. In 1986, $62,000 was given to: Bryant Community Center, Catholic Social Services, the Human Services Department of the Second Baptist Church, Ladies that Care, Northside Community Center, St. Andrews Breakfast Program, and the Salvation Army. HUNGER WATCH, sponsored by the World HungerEducation-Action Committee (WHE-AC), a U-M student group, is documenting the extent of hunger among residents in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Lansing. HUNGER WATCH plans to pubiish its report in March. (This reporter is the sole researcher for the Ann Arbor portion as a part of her gradúate studies at U-M in Public Policy.) Student volunteers are interviewing program administrators, health and other professionals, civic and religious groups, as well as program users in the four cities. Five Federal programs are being studied: Food Stamps, WIC (aid for Women, Infants and Children), Child Care Nutrition Programs, School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and Elderly Nutrition Programs. Local organizations such as soup kitchens, food pantries, and food banks are also assessed. HUNGER WATCH has three goals: to sensitize people to the issues of hunger, to edúcate people about hunger in their community, and to motívate people to work to alleviate hunger. We're confident that these goals will be met. Press coverage of the study has lead to initial sensitization. Exposure of the facts, namely Federal and State cuts and the increase in private assistance, educates people on the situation hungry people and food providers are faced with in four Michigan cities. The directory of private agencies provides a tooi for people to get involved at the local, hands-on level. At the same time, we can advocate for changes in federal and state policies based on our own experiences in the community. HUNGER WATCH is compiling a summary of current legislation and legisiators' addresses to encourage broad based citizen lobbying on hunger issues. In trying to arrive at a hard and fast number of hungry people in Ann Arbor, HUNGER WATCH has encountered a few obstacies. The agencies collect cumulative numbers of program participants. This means that a person may be counted multiple times i he C; she returns to the same program during the year. Also, at this point, there is a lack of good demographics on how old program users are, thèir employment status, whether or not they have children, huw many utilize a variety of local agencies, or how many receive federal assistance. To rectify these two problems, City Council's Emergency Food Distribution Committee will begin compiling monthly figures of the number of people served and will try to determine the characteristics of the hungry population in Ann Arbor. ' An additional problem is that one cannot merely add up all of the figures for the different food programs and arrive at the number of hungry people. Since programs offer a variety of services, a hungry person may utilize many different programs to meet their needs. While this presents a problem for quantifying hunger, t represents the chronic nature of hunger. Some people will use our inability to present a hard and fast number of hungry people as a way to circumvent giving money to local programs. We've seen this tactic used by the Reagan Administration, and by other conservative torces, but we woni let this ploy stop us. With the help o City Council, it may be possible to arrive at a number of hungry people in Ann Arbor within the next few years. For now, it is clear that the local agencies are being utilized more heavily, that this is in direct correlation with cuts in public food programs, and that this problem needs to be addressed. In response to these unmet needs, a number of steps are in order. Edúcate yourself and others on the issue of hunger in Ann Arbor. Read the HUNGER WATCH repon when it comes out in March. talk to hungry people, or go to a workshop on hunger given by the Interfaith Council's Task Force on Hunger. Help out local food programs. This can take the form of giving your time to a soup kitchen or donating food or money to a local agency. While individual help is always welcomed, group efforts can have a more marked impact. Lobby for hungry people at the local, state, and federal level. City Council has shown great sensitivity to the issue, so cali your councilmember and encourage them to increase funding to meet the increase in need. (Send them this article.) Find out how state and federal food policies effect local food programs and writé your respresentatives to convey your opinión. Teil them there is hunger in your comrhunity and challenge them to do something about it. Address root causes of hunger: poverty, unemployment, underemployment, and a lack of affordable housing. The number of hungry people will continue to grow unless we responsibly use our abilities and resources to work to alleviate hunger in Ann Arbor and beyond. Directory of local food providers ANN ARBOR COMMUNITY CENTER 625 North Main Street 662-3128 Contact: Kent Bernard Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution Contact: Vera Greer Program: Ladies that Care - Hot Meal BRYANT COMMUNITY CENTER 3 West Eden Court 994-2722 Contact: Lef est Galimore Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES 117 North Main Street 662-4534 Contact: Freedy Jackson Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT OF SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH 850 Rea OaK Street 663-9369 Contact: Johnnie Mae Baylis Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution HUNGER COALITION 604 East Huron 663-1 870 Contact: Sheila Clancy Program: Hot Meals HURON HARVEST FOOD BANK 4090 Packard Road 971-9222 Contact: Tom Mahs Program: Food Distribution to Local Food Providers NORTHSIDE COMMUNITY CENTER 809 Taylor 994-2985 Contact: Lefeist Galimore Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution PEACE NEIGHBORHOC 662-3564 Contact: Bonnie Billups, Jr Program: Youth and Job Tra r ing Programs, Food Coupons RED CROSS 2729 Packard 97", -5300 Contact: Jeff Hutchinson Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution SAFE HOUSE P.O. Box 7052 973-0242 Contact: Gabby Bublitz ST. ANDREWS BREAKFAST PROGRAM 306 North División 663-0518 Contact: Mary Long orTrudy Courtney Program: Free Breakfast SALVATION ARMY 100Ar a Drive „or 668-7212 Contact: Jack Wilson Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution S COMMUNITY CRISIS CENTER 4 North River, Ypsilanti 485-873C Contact: Andy Burke Program: Emergency Food Bag Distribution, Cheese Hot Line Groups Studying Hunger in Ann Arbor HUNGER TASK FORCE OF THE INTERFAITH COUNCIL FOR PEACE 640 East Huron 663-1870 Contact: Chuck Barbieri WORLD HUNGER EDUCATION-ACTION COMMITTEE 4202 Michigan Union Contact: Cindy Phillips 662-9765 or Jean Cilik 663-3560