September is Hunger Action Month as defined by Feeding America, our national affiliate. The official color for HAM is Orange. The official Hunger Action Day was Thursday, September 14th. Our office entry is decked out for all volunteers to see and get caught up in the effort. Thanks to Will Britton, husband of Stacy Britton, our Coach for our Poverty Alleviation program we have a fantastic full-size graphic of an action hero, complete with cape and tights. Everyone is invited to stand behind it and place their head in the cut-out area for their official picture as a super-hero ready to make a difference for roughly 70, 000 people struggling with food insecurity in our 8 county service area. We encourage them to also snap a picture and post it on social media to their friends and followers and encourage them to get involved as well. I must say I cut quite a dashing figure in my cape and tights with a body like I never had or will have to show my support.
Orange is the hot color in our staff dress code these days. We have challenged our board to break out their favorite orange apparel (which is in short supply for most of us) and snap a picture to post their support as well. It’s not exactly the “ice bucket challenge” but across the nation we hope to set in motion some strong collective energy using the color orange to show not just concern, but action that will move the needle for some 41 million people who struggle to feed their families.
A topic that is a national tragedy we must touch on is the recovery effort in Texas, Florida and possibly other southern states as well. Our national network has already sent 347 semi-loads of food and supplies to Texas with more rolling in every day. Local interest in providing assistance was converted into action through our organization. We have sent supplies of water and paper towels to Texas through a local connection that was assembling supplies in northern Indiana right after the storm has passed. Several regional food banks in Texas were affected or closed, with many of the staffs affected in a significant way, but most have re-opened and are in operation 24/7 for the future until significant progress is made. Equipment, staff and supplies are being sent from around the network to provide round the clock operations. The coordinated effort will continue for many months to come. In Florida, a number of food banks have temporarily closed but anticipate re-opening in the next few days. Florida will no doubt be in similar circumstances and the effort by our network will pick up there as soon as the storm passes. Food and supplies are already being staged in Florida and Georgia.
If an event were to happen right here in East Central Indiana, we can be confident that all the Feeding America network support that is evident in the south right now would be deployed and would remain on-site as long as necessary for things to return to a level of normalcy. Wear your orange as often as possible this month and share your selfie to remind all your friends and family how fortunate we are at this point in time. Let’s all do what we can both locally and in disaster-stricken areas.
Tim Kean is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. The Second Harvest Food Bank network of 115-member agencies and programs provides food assistance to more than 70,000 low-income people facing hunger in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash Counties.