The Rapidian

Pulling back the curtain on hunger relief

On the third day of Hunger Action Week, nonprofits open their doors to the public.
Underwriting support from:

Schedule of Free Events

Wednesday, September 5: Poverty Simulation

4:30 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.

David D. Hunting branch, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids

RSVP Shelly Helmus by Sept. 1, [email protected]

 

Thursday, September 6: Healthy Food Cook-Off

5 p.m. — 7 p.m.

United Church Outreach Ministry, 1311 Chicago Drive SW, Wyoming

Contact Shawn Keener, [email protected]

 

Friday, September 7: Agency Open Houses

Agencies include local food pantries, Catherine’s Health Center, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.

Visit the hunGRy? Facebook page for a complete listing

Contact Emma Rosauer, [email protected]

 

Saturday, September 8: “Hunger Hits Home”

10 a.m. — 12 p.m.

Loosemore Auditorium, Grand Valley State University

Contact Ashley Abbott, [email protected]

 

Hunger Action Week is on Facebook and Twitter.

A collection of paper plates hangs on the wall at United Church Outreach Ministry in Wyoming, Michigan. Each plate tells the story of an individual or family who depends on UCOM’s food pantry. Some are strikingly honest — “One of the worst feelings is when your child says he/she is hungry and there is nothing (underlined twice) to eat.” Others are decorated with suns, flowers, and beaming families. One simply reads, “Life without the food pantry,” and shows a stick-figure drawing of a crying girl. All of them remind the viewer that hunger touches real people in diverse circumstances.

On Friday, Sept. 7, Hunger Action Week 2012 takes participants to the front lines of hunger relief with Nonprofit Approaches to Poverty, a day of agency open houses across Kent County. Visitors will tour the facilities of food pantries, health clinics and a food distribution center to learn how nonprofits actually tackle poverty and its symptoms. Visitors to participating food pantries will also get to take in the personal stories displayed in the Paper Plate Project.

For those who attended the first two Hunger Action Week events, Wednesday’s Poverty Simulation and Thursday’s Healthy Food Cook-Off, Nonprofit Approaches to Poverty gives “feet” to the knowledge they have gained so far, said Emma Rosauer, Hunger Response Director for Access of West Michigan. “It will be a powerful way for people who are grappling with this renewed idea of hunger to get the true picture and the real voice of people who are experiencing it firsthand.”

By bringing visitors into Kent County agencies, Rosauer hopes will they find practical ways to put their knowledge to use as donors, volunteers or advocates for struggling West Michiganders. Poverty, food insecurity and their related policy issues (one timely example being the likely reductions to SNAP contained in the next Farm Bill) cease to be abstract statistics. They become personal.

The agencies taking part in Nonprofit Approaches to Poverty range from large-scale operations like Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank in Comstock Park to neighborhood pantries like John Knox Community Food Pantry in southeast Grand Rapids. A full list of open house sites and times can be found on the Hunger Action Week Facebook page.

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