Friday is Hunger Action Day to help the food insecure

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Friday, Sept. 23 is Hunger Action Day, a day to improve the lives of those dealing with food insecurity.

Hunger Action Day is part of the larger Hunger Action Month. Volunteering, donating to a food bank, or simply raising awareness by posting on Facebook are great ways to get involved for Hunger Action Day.

Michael McKee, CEO of Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, said, in their 25-county network, the number of people they provide assistance to peaked at the beginning of the pandemic at 140,000 a month.

That dropped when government aid came into play.

“I would say at the very start of this year, we were looking at 104,000, 105,000 per month. That’s now up to about 110,000 per month,” McKee said.

Many people are seeking assistance for the very first time, and many of them are employed. Inflation is playing a huge role in need, McKee said.

“Inflation is pushing a lot of people who are food insecure really just off a cliff. They’re barely on the margins on a good day,” McKee said. “Now with food costs at 11% or 12% higher -- for some staples the increase is more like 30%, 40%, 50%. That’s just too much.”

On top of the cost of food, the price of gas is up, along with the cost of housing.

“Consider a single mom with a young child. Rent may be $1,250, daycare, gasoline, all the rest of it. At $20 an hour, she’s taking home maybe $2,500 a month and it just isn’t enough,” said McKee.

Normally, the number of people the BRAFB helps increases around the holidays, but with the recent increase, McKee said fall and winter will be very heavy.

“Hunger Action Month allows us to generate the awareness and support we need to fill our warehouses so that we can fill the food pantries and soup kitchens and shelters that are meeting the needs of the local neighbors.”

One-third of the people BRAFB feeds are children. 20% are seniors.