Every September, along with the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks, we recognize Hunger Action Month to fight hunger. Although the Farm Credit System and our membership supports local food banks all throughout the year, this month calls for awareness and advocating for those in need of a reliable food supply.
Farmers in the Mid-Atlantic region have stood behind the mission of Feeding America in various ways. Besides donating money to food banks, many producers also give their resources, such as time, equipment, man-power, and the food they grow. Some farmers even go as far as planting dedicated fields that will go right to their local food banks when harvested!
Hunger Action Month looks a lot different in 2020 compared to previous years. The current Coronavirus pandemic has caused a record amount of families to experience hunger for the first time due to loss of income and quarantine requirements. It has been estimated that 54 million people may be food insecure in 2020, including 18 million children, according to Feeding America.
Many rural and farm communities — the very places where crops are grown to feed the world — face hunger in higher rates. In fact, 86% of the counties with the highest percentage of children at risk for food insecurity are rural counties. This is due in part to the distance that most rural residents live from their local food bank or pantry.
As a member-owned cooperative, serving our rural communities is one of our main goals at Farm Credit. Our awareness of food insecurity has always been at the forefront of our community relations efforts. Each year, our Association contributes to food banks in all five states in our footprint in a variety of ways. Our employees and their families volunteer annually at the Food Bank of Delaware in Milford to bag lunches for the Backpack Program, and at the Maryland Food Bank through the gleaning program on the Eastern Shore at participating farms.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we partnered with Colonial Farm Credit and Farm Credit of the Virginias to donate to both the Maryland and Virginia Federation of Food Banks. We also supported the Hunger Heroes program through the Maryland Farm Bureau, the Central Penn Food Bank, Blessings of Hope, and Washington County Farm Bureau’s Milk Drive during the pandemic.
All month long, we encourage you to get involved in Hunger Action Month by volunteering at your local food bank or pantry, donating online, wearing orange on September 10 for Hunger Action Day, and advocating on social media with the #HungerActionMonth hashtag. Although September is dedicated for advocacy, food insecurity is an on-going effort that needs to be recognized and fought for all year long.
To learn more about Hunger Action Month and how you can make a difference, visit feedingamerica.org/take-action/hunger-action-month.