Next weekend is the Covered Bridge Festival in Washington and Greene counties, where crowds gather to enjoy two days filled with entertainment, crafters and food.
But two news stories from the past week brought sobering reminders that while most of us look forward to such festivals in summer’s twilight, many are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
September is National Hunger Action Month and, in Greene County, neighbors helping neighbors is not a lost art.
The Greene County Food Security Partnership was launched in June 2011 to tackle hunger. This partnership among citizens, businesses and organizations has provided weekend food for hungry children to take home, makes sure there is healthy food at the county’s summer day camps, identifies the homeless and creates special food boxes to serve their needs.
It is quite apparent that food security means taking a bite out of hunger by taking action.
Greene County Community Foundation Director Bettie Stammerjohn brought the partnership idea home after attending a regional Southwest Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership meeting and realizing that Greene County has its own special needs.
The best way to get more food for the 900 families who depend on the Corner Cupboard Food Bank’s 13 monthly pantries is to send a donation to the Food Bank.
The Corner Cupboard Food Bank, on Rolling Meadows Road, has the purchasing power to turn $3,000 into $15,000 worth of food, but needs all the help it can get to make up for this year’s state budget cuts,
It takes $100,000 a year to keep the Cupboard stocked, but it’s only receiving $47,000. That’s a big gap to fill. “If we don’t make up the difference, it’s possible that our pantries won’t have enough food to be open every month,” said director Jan Caldwell.
A special calendar has been created called “30 Ways in 30 Days,” providing tips to get involved in he fight against hunger. To view the calendar online, visit http://miniurl.org/4Mt.
It offers suggestions, such as volunteering at a local pantry, or helping to serve lunch at St. Ann Church in Waynesburg. Donating a gas card to the Meals on Wheels program Sept. 28 helps volunteers keep driving as gas prices go up.
What about “Skip Your Lunch Day” Sept. 18 and donate the money saved to the Corner Cupboard?
Hunger will not just go away, but its impact can be lessened if people choose to get involved.
And that brings us to another story, this one describing a survey designed to count the number of homeless individuals living in Greene County.
The survey – mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for funding purposes – was conducted during a 12-hour span Aug. 15 and identified 22 homeless individuals, including two families with children. The volunteers canvassed the county in teams of two from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and searched abandoned houses, campgrounds, parks, railroad tracks, rest areas, rivers and wooded areas.
Homeless individuals who were found received packages of ready-to-eat meals and personal care items, along with a list of community resources and addresses.
We heard rhetoric coming from both the Republican and Democratic conventions about what needs to happen to get the country’s economy back on track.
We doubt those who must rely on food banks and the compassion of the Greene County Housing Options Partnership for basic survival needs can wait for our national political leaders to act. These people are getting the help they need from the communities in which they live, which proves to us help comes from next door, not always from Harrisburg or Washington, D.C.