September is national Hunger Action Month – a month where people all over America stand together to fight hunger. It’s a month to spread the word and act on the hunger crisis to aid in the awareness in finding a solution so no child, adult or senior experiences enduring hunger.

It’s difficult to comprehend hunger exists in our rich agricultural communities throughout the Lower Valley. There are many people who don’t have enough nutritious food to sustain themselves or their families. Their hunger is real.

Serving the region since 1971, Second Harvest has been one of the leaders in the hunger-relief network for people in need by distributing over 2 million pounds of free food each month to help people in need in 26 counties in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The numbers uncover a staggering truth - 55,000 people a week line up at more than 250 partnering neighborhood food banks, pantries or Mobile Market events served by Second Harvest.

According to Feeding America, there’s enough food to feed every man, woman and child in this country, yet 72 billion pounds of safe, edible food goes to waste each year. The organization reports an estimated 25–40 percent of food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed. And more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste.

The long-term effects of hunger and poor nutrition are known to be devastating. That’s why it’s vital to provide healthy food to children, families and seniors facing hunger in the Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley with food. They require a variety of nourishing foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein.

There’s a strong medical correlation that food is linked to quality health care in so many ways and should be viewed accordingly. People facing hunger and the effect of food insecurity on health is an ever-growing concern which challenges everyone to support national Hunger Action Month activities this month and every day.

It’s essential we realize the importance of bringing healthy food to underserved areas in the Inland Northwest and our valley communities.

Leading by example is a community trait here in the valley. Providing our neighbors with nourishing food – from farmers, manufacturers, and retailers – to people in need, is what we do. While, at the same time, there is work to be done in continuing to establish a sustainable environment to assist in building a path toward a brighter, food-secure future.

Patrick Shelby for the Sunnyside Sun editorial board. PShelby@sunnysidesun.com

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