Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Even though it has been a week since Thanksgiving, memories of the delicious dinner my family and I had to celebrate the holiday remain.  I bet they do for you as well.  In fact, if you are like me, you may be regretting the amount of turkey and stuffing you had.  I’m pretty sure that one meal will have a lasting effect on my waistline.

But as this CNN story highlights, for some Arkansans, Thanksgiving was not a day of feasting.  In fact, for these individuals and families, avoiding going to sleep hungry is a daily struggle.

Ken Kupchick, marketing director for the River Valley Regional Food Bank in Fort Smith told CNN some heart-wrenching stories that they have encountered in Arkansas’s second largest city.  Ken spoke of a mother who used to volunteer at a food pantry and is now in need of the organization’s services due to mounting medical bills for her children.  He recounted a story of an elderly lady who went from financial security to sorting through the dumpster garbage at the local grocery store after her husband passed away and her monthly income disappeared.

I encourage you to read the CNN report as it is quite an eye-opening piece.

The hunger crisis is not just something that is happening in countries most of us will never set foot in.  Yes, we see those images on the nightly news, but the reality is we don’t have to go far to see that hunger exists here. 

According to recent studies, hunger is a struggle for one in six Americans and many of those suffering from food insecurities are children.  The most recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that Arkansas has the lowest food security and at has the worst rate of childhood hunger in the nation with nearly 25 percent of Arkansas kids going to bed hungry.  The difficult economic times our country is facing only serves to exasperate the situation for these Americans.

The positive news is that each of us can help but an end to it. 

In Congress, a bipartisan coalition of Senators committed to fighting hunger and food insecurity are working to raise awareness and resources to address hunger issues both here at home and around the world.  As co-chair of the Hunger Caucus, I am a proud supporter of our latest initiative—the “Hour for Hunger”—which encourages Members of Congress to commit one hour of their time during the holidays to help raise awareness and put an end to hunger in their communities.

Washington alone cannot cure our nation’s hunger problems.  It will take a concerted effort in our states, cities and communities.  There is a part for us all to play in fight.  Please consider making a donation to a hunger-relief organization, like a centralized food bank, or a food pantry at your church this holiday season.

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