Banquet Focuses on Hunger in the Heartland [Audio]
Some who attended the Hunger Banquet in Hannibal Sunday got a taste of food insecurity. Others dined on a full-course meal. The event sponsored by NECAC showcased the growing problem of hunger locally and nationally.
As people entered the Bomar Community Center, they were divided into three groups. The low-income group lined up to get a bowl of vegetable soup, crackers and a glass of water. No table for those folks either. The middle-class had a buffet-style fare of pasta, vegetable, roll and dessert. The high-income folks were served a full meal with all the trimmings at their linen-clad tables.
Hannibal Cavemen pitcher Devin Breihan was in the low income group. Breihan says the event drives home the fact that hunger isn’t limited to third-world countries…
One in six Americans struggle with food insecurity, according to the charity Feeding America. The numbers for many northeast Missouri counties are similar. Fifteen percent of households in Marion County are said to be “food uncertain”. Twenty-two percent of those have children living in the household. Statistics show Missouri has the 10th highest percentage of hungry people in the U.S.
Stacey Nicholas, RSVP Director at Douglass Community Center, spoke to the audience on the importance of good nutrition for children. Nicholas says lunch programs for kids are a challenge in the summer when school is not in session. Nicholas says hungry students produce lower test scores.
NECAC’s Judah Mudd says the hunger problem isn’t limited to the under-educated. Twenty-three percent of adults with post-high school degrees are said to struggle with hunger.
Representatives from the Methodist Food Pantry operating out of Hannibal spoke on the importance of supporting local food banks. The Methodist Food Pantry supports 250-300 households in the Hannibal area.
Officials hope participants in the Hunger Banquet will take away the fact that hunger is a growing problem but many hands makes for lighter work—and that help can be in the form of donating time, food, or money.