Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Nation. Underfed.

One of the cool parts about my job at Groupon Grassroots is that I am inspired on a daily basis.  Inspired by the people I talk to, the success each Grassroots campaign has on our site, and the issues individuals are addressing and how their work is making an impact everyday.    

Before I came to Groupon, I felt like I knew about the major issues that our country and world faces, but I have found that I was naive in thinking that.

Everyday I find my eyes being opened a little bit wider by the knowledge I am absorbing.   There is a lot of great work being done by individuals in our country and the world to help make an impact in the issues and challenges happening here.

Today was one of those eye opening experiences.   My team had the unique opportunity to see a sneak peak of a documentary called "Finding North."  This documentary is about the hunger issue children, families, and individuals face across the United States.   The film shows you what hunger really looks like today in our country.   They also talk about the stereotypes we as a society have formed on what hunger really looks like and how child obesity is linked to food insecurity.

Finding Northshowcases three individuals: a 5th graders named Rosie, a single-working mom with two children named Barbie, and a 2nd grader named Tremonica who is obese.  In addition to their stories the film focuses on the challenges they each face in the issue of hunger. (Learn more about their stories at http://www.takepart.com/findingnorth)

The music throughout the film is by the renowned musicians, The Civil Wars', Joy Williams and John Paul White, who are big advocates on the fight against hunger in the U.S.

Amongst the many influential spokespeople throughout the film, Jeff Bridges (actor and founder of End Hunger Network) and Tom Colicchio from Top Chef are two of the key spokespeople and public eye figures who are helping raise awareness of this issue and taking a stand in the fight for those who don't have a voice.

The statistics shared throughout the film was what shocking and almost hard to digest.  I found myself constantly shaking my head side to side in disbelief.   I don't want to give them all away but here are a few that really caught my attention.

Did you know that there are 49 million people in the U.S. and that 1 in 4 children, don't know where their next meal is coming from?  This is called food insecurity, which is when you don't know where your next meal is coming from and when you will have it. (this is something I cannot even begin to fathom and that thousands of people experience this everyday).

The U.S. has food deserts throughout the U.S. and amongst these food deserts, 80% of them are in urban areas.  80%.   Food Deserts: can be described as any area where residents' access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent. (i.e. absence of grocery stores within convenient traveling distance)

Did you know that the cost of fresh produce has gone up 40% since 1980 and the cost of processed food has gone down 40% since 1980?  Commodity crops, like soy, wheat, and corn are highest food crops produced, and only 1% of our crops are fruits and vegetables.  Hence why fruits and vegetables costs are so high.

Or that in the year 2000, there were only 200 foodbanks in the U.S., and today there are now over 40,000 foodbanks across the country?

You can learn more about current food insecurity data and what the local face of hunger looks like at Feeding America.

After watching this film, my eyes and heart have grown wider and bigger.  The three featured stories have touched my heart and completely changed my view on hunger in America.   I am angry, disturbed, shocked, but motivated and inspired.   Motivated and inspired to want to help any way I can in helping raise awareness about this issue and empower the charities out there that are helping feed the hunger in the U.S.

My challenge to you readers is to help take part in educating yourself not only about the real hunger issue our country faces but how you as an individual can help make an impact.

Here are a few ways you can help:

1.  Volunteer at a local foodbank or food pantry in your community (Foodbank locator: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx and food pantry locator: http://www.pantrynet.org/)
2.  Help be a voice and help advocate. Learn more at http://frac.org/
3.  Donate to charities like Feeding America and Share Our Strength, that help provide food to the hungry.
4.  Spread the word and talk about the issue of hunger in the U.S.

"Public charities, foodbanks and church pantries are doing more than ever before, but they can't keep up with the need. We can never end hunger only through the wonderful work of local charities. Like other Western democracies, we must end our national problem of hunger through national and political leadership. Charity is nice for some things, but not as a way to feed a nation. We don't protect our national security through charity, and we shouldn't protect our families and children that way either."  -- Jeff Bridges

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