The Rapidian

Hunger Action Week addresses food access, nutrition in Kent County

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The annual event series turns its attention to the intersections of hunger, poverty and health, Sept. 14-20.
Under the Pines is one of many local farms expanding access to fresh produce by accepting Bridge Cards.

Under the Pines is one of many local farms expanding access to fresh produce by accepting Bridge Cards. /Hunger Action Week

Hunger Action Week Events

All Week:
Post a #paperplateselfie on Facebook or Twitter. Visit Hunger Action Week on Facebook to learn more.

September 16:
“The Weight of the Nation: Challenges” screening and panel discussion. A documentary examining food insecurity and health in the U.S. 7 p.m., Grand Valley State University Pew Campus, Room 136/138E DeVos Center, Grand Rapids, MI.

September 17:
Hunger Simulation. A chance to put yourself in the shoes of someone facing hunger. 7-8:30 p.m., YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, David D. Hunting Branch, 475 Lake Michigan Drive NW, Grand Rapids, MI.

September 18:
Healthy Food Cook-Off and Kids’ Fair. Learn how to make delicious meals on a small budget. 5 p.m., United Church Outreach Ministry, 1311 Chicago Drive SW, Wyoming, MI.

State Senator Dave Hildenbrand takes a #paperplateselfie for Hunger Action Week.

State Senator Dave Hildenbrand takes a #paperplateselfie for Hunger Action Week. /Office of State Senator Hildenbrand

Several Grand Rapids-area hunger-relief organizations are coming together for Hunger Action Week, Sept. 14-20, a series of events whose mission is to educate West Michigan about the reality of local hunger and provide practical ways to get involved.

“We live in one of the most prosperous communities in Michigan. We shouldn’t be content to let anyone to go hungry,” said Emma Garcia, hunger response director for Access of West Michigan and a Hunger Action Week coordinator.

One in seven Kent County residents is struggling with hunger, yet “hunger” can be a misleading term. For most people in West Michigan, finding calories isn’t a problem. The challenge is finding good nutrition.

“Unfortunately, we have a food system that promotes cheap, high-calorie foods over food that is actually nourishing,” Garcia said. “American hunger could really be described as malnutrition. It’s a serious health risk.”

According to a recent study by Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, 64.6 percent of Food Bank clients in Kent County resort to purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food in order to stretch their limited budgets. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that more than a quarter also list their health status as “poor” and that more than a third have a household member with diabetes.

With events like a hunger simulation at the YMCA, a screening of HBO’s “The Weight of the Nation” and a Healthy Food Cook-Off and Kids’ Fair hosted by United Church Outreach Ministry and Kids’ Food Basket, Hunger Action Week will present both the problem and an array of practical solutions.

“So many great things are already happening to change the situation in Grand Rapids,” Garcia said. “This is about showing people how they can be a part of the solution.”

More information about Hunger Action Week can be found at and

Hunger Action Week is coordinated by the following members of Kent County’s Food and Nutrition Coalition: Access of West Michigan, Catholic Charities West Michigan, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, Grand Valley State University Women’s Center, Kids’ Food Basket and United Church Outreach Ministry.

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