Hunger group provides way for gardeners and farmers help food pantries

As the weather becomes consistently warmer throughout the nation, many gardeners’ and farmers’ minds turn to the land and the spring planting season. But their thoughts also make considerations for the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, where food and grocery products will help feed more than 37 million low-income Americans through a network of more than 200 food banks in the U.S.

If gardeners and farmers wish to help their local food banks, Feeding America suggests the following steps:

Contact the local Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers organization and help contribute a bushel, a dollar or an hour. The organization provides 33 million pounds of food, volunteer hours and has given more than $800,000 to local food banks and pantries in 2013.  Contact jborys@feedingamerican.org for more information.

Farmers and families that live in rural areas might consider designating acres to donate their crops to local food banks or maybe taking a portion of their crop’s sale and donating it to local book food pantries.  InvestAnAcre@feedingamerica.org.

Also, with more than 84 million households with gardens in the U.S., many gardeners are planting an extra row of produce for soup kitchens and food pantries to help feed the hungry. Plant A Row hotline is (887) 492-2727 to find a campaign in the area.

Feeding American is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. The organization provides food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in communities across the U.S. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people they serve; educates the public about hunger issues; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit Feeding America.org or go on InvestAnAcre@feedingamerica.org or go to Twitter at Twitter.com/Feeding America.

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The day in the life of a homeless person

Through the use of a 35 mm camera carried by a homeless person, viewers of HomelessGoPro can experience first hand what it is like to be Homeless.

Most Americans have never experienced what it is like to be homeless.  Through a San Francisco project called Homeless GoPro, photos and reports are developed to build awareness around homeless individuals’ daily interactions, as a way to experience them together and also address another aspect of homelessness – the empathy divide.

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Take the “diet” words out of the family dinner time

Editor’s Note:  Feb. 23 to March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Sitting down to a family dinner is not a Norman Rockwell moment for many people who suffer from eating disorders.  According to the National Eating Disorder Association, constant discussions by parents on dieting, food fetishes or the desire to lose weight might leave a negative influence on your teen or child’s body image.

“Eating disorders are complicated and vexing problems and we don’t exactly understand the pathophysiology of them,” Dr. Aaron Krasner, a practicing psychiatrist and director of the Adolescent Transitional Living Program at Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut told Forbes magazine.

In the article, author Dr. Robert Glatter, M.D., says Krasner early hypotheses of the pathogenesis of eating disorders are related to difficulties between parents as it pertains to “mothers milk”:  giving love, receiving love, sharing in food, sharing in food-related celebrations.”  He says there is environmental component with eating disorders. Krasner offers five constructive support and suggestions describing how parents might promote a positive body image in teens and children:

1.     Try to avoid criticizing yourself or others about weight or shape in front of your children.

2.     Avoid talking negatively about food – “I can’t eat potatoes because they’re carbs” or “That cake will go straight to my thighs.” It’s more important to teach the importance of healthy eating and exercise without references to weight.

3.    Compliment children on their talents and accomplishments – a little praise goes a long way, especially when it’s well deserved

4.    Let your teens and children know that weight gain and changes to body shape are a natural part of the growing process.

5.    Have a discussion with your children about their use of social media and what they view in movies and on TV.  Only about 5% of American women have the body type that is portrayed in advertising as the ideal size and shape for women.

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Underbelly of unemployment shows homelessness

Rosa Serrano and her seven children at the Days Inn in Shrewsbury, Mass., where they were living since November until being moved to more permanent housing. Worcester Telegram and Gazette photo

The published unemployment numbers show progress in the American economy.  But what the underbelly of the unemployment numbers doesn’t show is that homeless shelters are filling up, and states are picking up the tab by housing people in low-cost hotels and emergency shelters, especially families with children. Damaged by the results of the Great Recession including long-term unemployment, foreclosures, evictions and health care costs has led families into the only housing available to them.

In the state of Massachusetts there is a “right to shelter” budget provision that requires the state to house homeless families that qualify. Yet, these families must show they are victims of domestic violence, a natural disaster, a no-fault eviction, or have spent a night in a place not meant for human habitation.

A New England Center for Investigative reporter, Rupa Shenoy, covers Massachusetts’ raising homeless challenges and how taxpayers are flipping the bill as a result of the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

- Sharon Dunten, editor, SurvivingTimes.com

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Mississippi single mothers poorest in the nation

Shae Hill holds her 3-month-old daughter inside a store May 7, 2009 in Glendora, Mississippi, a highly impoverished town in the rural Lower Mississippi Delta region. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation.  But its status is not without trying to walk away from this title.  Although social services and benefits have allowed the poorest of the poor to receive more food and health care, the ability for Mississippi’s poor to journey out of poverty has been a long and challenging battle.

The Mississippi poor consist of a large population of single mothers — who are working.  Many have graduated from high school but are unable to find a living wage in the small town and rural communities for which they live.

In an article by NPR’s WUBR, “Women and Children Most At Risk in Mississippi,” Carol Burnett, executive director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, discusses the situation in Mississippi, as well as underlying issues and myths.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech a benchmark for peace and equality

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to millions at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

In 1963 I was only five years-old, but I knew something extraordinary was happening in this country.  As I watched the television network news with my family, I saw the raw footage of riots in the South and fires in Detroit as this country fought for civil rights for all its citizens.  As a child, these images sometimes frightened me, but they also intrigued me.  I just couldn’t figure out what the fuss was all about.  I guess at five we are still color blind.  I don’t remember watching Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech on television, but I do remember the news of his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was all over the newspaper headlines. Very soon after his speech, President Kennedy was shot and killed.  And in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  I was ten years-old in 1968 and was beginning to understand the chaos in this country concerning poverty and race, as well as the rising discourse concerning the Vietnam War.

Martin Luther King’s speech imprinted a broad change in this country that led its people toward King’s dream of quiet and peaceful protest, and even more important, equality.  Even though fighting for equality was not always peaceful, his speech and actions created a benchmark toward peaceful resolutions.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, please re-read his speech to understand his mark in U.S. history. We might  have come far as a  nation in the understanding of equality, but we need to remain relentless in redefining equality as it was is spoken so clearly in King’s speech in 1963.  Read Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream,” by linking here.

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Hunger agency asks for help on Day of Service

America’s are asked to use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service volunteer at local agencies serving the needs of communities, such as a food pantry. sfgate.com photo

Food banks provide nourishment for millions of people each year. Feeding America encourages people to work at food pantries on the MLK’s Day of Service, Jan. 20. Texans.clubs.com photo

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

Chicago, Illinois – The nation will pause to reflect and remember the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 20. To honor his memory, his birthday is now commemorated as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Each year millions of Americans across the country gather on this day to serve their neighbor s and communities, especially for those who are hungry.

Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, is asking people to consider volunteering at a local food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen to honor the holiday this year. Feeding America is a network of 203 food banks providing food and groceries to 37 million Americans each year.

“Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?” said Dr. King as a challenge to the nation.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports 49 million Americans are food insecure, including 16 million children. “Our economy continues to be troubled, and many Americans are out of work,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding of America. “Our state and federal governments face enormous budget shortfalls, and there is concern that there will be significant cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits.”

Aiken says everyone can do something to help their neighbors who live at risk of hunger whether it is sorting food, packing boxes, or serving a meal at a soup kitchen. “We particularly want to encourage children to volunteer on this national holiday, when most schools will be closed,” said Aiken.  He said it is important for future leaders to learn more about the 16 million children who live at risk of hunger.

“Feeding America believes that together, we can solve hunger.” said Aiken.  To find volunteer opportunities in your community, visit: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx

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Shriver Report website brings issues of women to forefront

The Shriver Report is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary look at how American families live and work today, giving clear insight into one of the most important social trends of our time: the emergence of women into all areas of society.  To view this new website, link here.

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Unemployment rates dropping, also wages and quality jobs

While unemployment percentages dropped in December, 3.9 million Americans are still on long-term unemployment. overfiftyandoutofwork.com photo

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

Today’s jobs report at first glance looks promising with the unemployment rate falling to 6.7 percent.  But if you look at the guts of this information, the unemployment crisis is still affecting so many Americans.

In an Associated Press’ article, “US economy adds 74K jobs; rate falls to 6.7 percent,” by Christopher S. Rugaber, this week’s figures are only a weak gain compared to other reports since October 2008. Yes, the unemployment percentages are falling, but the figures might not show the circumstances behind the drop.  For example:

  • Many individuals looking for jobs have stopped looking; therefore, the government no longer counts them as unemployed
  • The jobs acquired might be part-time or contract positions leaving many Americans with lower and unpredictable wages
  • Many new older workers now working again are earning less pay; new younger workers are in entry-level positions
  • December is a time for seasonal employment, and many employers are not hiring for permanent positions, especially in retail
  • US minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living since the 1970s

To stimulate the economy, U.S. businesses need to provide better paying jobs, support more job training and provide more security in the job market. Without these elements, the dropping unemployment percentages could only be an illusion of statistics rather than the reality of workforce.

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Federal minimum wage issue stalls, states and cities take action

As the 2014 moves forward, some states and local cities are changing the minimum wage. Harvardpolitics.com photo

Throughout the country many states and local municipalities are raising the minimum wage by 50 cents or up to $15 per hour.  So why is the federal government ignoring the wishes of the American people to raise the minimum wage?  To read more, CNNMoney.com gives the details here.

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