Fischer: It takes a village to feed a child


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As the waste from food surplus becomes a widespread issue, families across the globe as well as right here in our own backyards continue to grow uncertain of when and where they will get their next meal.

Feeding America, a nonprofit network of food banks, states, “In 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children.”

Table to Table, a local volunteer-based organization concerned with preserving edible food that would otherwise be thrown out, identifies this issue, with its mission to keep “wholesome, edible food” from spoiling by allocating its food donations to those in need, predominantly through certain organizations in the area.

According to Foodtank, “Table to Table saved over 1,113,800 pounds of food in 2013 by rescuing unused food from a range of partners including McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and local farmers’ markets.” The food delivered each week is then sent to local charities such as the Free Lunch Program, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, the Crisis Center Food Bank, the Salvation Army, and the Senior Center, among other similar organizations.

With the Salvation Army’s weekly Soup Kitchen, families undergoing personal hardship in Johnson County are given the basic right to a meal. With no application necessary, “bread, pastries, and other perishable food items” are accessible for those to take home Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each week.

Each night, a hot meal is served to families struggling to increase their revenue and travelers who are “temporarily stranded” as well as to those living on the streets. By providing programs such as this, we are essentially killing two birds with one stone. Food sustainability is not only achieved but so is the expression of altruism.

At the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, victims of domestic violence, as well as their loved ones, are provided with a safety outlet. In just one year alone, the program has answered “approximately 18,000 crisis phone calls” and has offered more than “8,000 nights of safe shelter.”

When it comes to immediate care, DVIP delivers housing for both women and their children, typically housing 35 persons a night in the 15-bedroom shelter. Of course, with this influx of residents comes the need for more food. With a donation wish list including items such as Hy-Vee and Walmart gift cards, the need for nonperishable items remains intact.

As grocery stores and restaurants gradually begin to donate their unsold products to local organizations, we must look at the food in our own pantries. According to the Washington Post, “Americans, as it is, now throw out more food than plastic, paper, metal, or glass — and by a long shot.”

It’s up to the producers, suppliers, and consumers to fix this problem. Just like the African proverb states, it really does take a village.

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