September is Hunger Action Month. The goal is to raise $30,000 for the 1 in 5 Clevelanders who face hunger. But this month-long effort is about much more than money. The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland (HN) seeks to “raise awareness of this important issue of hunger and food insecurity,” according to Jennifer Scofield, CEO of the Hunger Network.
In addition to the goal for September, the organization raises funds year-round by hosting a wide array of fundraising events, including a golf outing and, for the first time, a Market After Dark. HN of Greater Cleveland, which rates a very credible 3 stars on Charity Navigator, dedicates a remarkable 95% of its budget directly to programs that fulfill its mission.
Their mission statement asserts that they strive to “reduce hunger and enhance nutrition in our community by providing food and other health-related vital services to individuals and families, and by actively and effectively participating in a coordinated response to people in need.”
That mission is expanding, Scofield reports. “We have found that usage continues to develop; we are noticing the hunger also is moving to the outer rings of Cuyahoga County. In fact, in working with Dr. Mark Salling, CSU, who did the study, it has shown the movement of poverty. We need to make sure we continue to serve people in need where they are. As an example, our newest Hunger Center is opening October 6 in Oakwood Village.”
For some, hunger can seem like an intractable problem. But Scofield and others are more optimistic. She says, “Food Rescue, which directly goes after the enormous amount of food waste in our country (40%), is one of the strongest and more compelling programs today to help solve hunger. [I]t would take 1/3 of the food we throw out to feed our entire food insecure population, which is at 12.7%. We launched HN Food Rescue last November, and it has been growing each month, but we need more volunteers to help us.”
Volunteering, she emphasizes, is another way to fight hunger. If your circumstances make this a more viable way of contributing to the effort to combat hunger, please consider taking advantage of HN’s various volunteering options.
Scofield summons us all to action: “The more intense focus drawn to the issue of hunger, the more support is generated for our Cleveland neighbors in need. The Hunger Network’s efforts on the ground, day-in and day-out, to help feed people and not landfills in Cuyahoga County only benefit from community support and awareness from efforts like Hunger Action Month.”
One way to support HN is to vote and then vote again: as a finalist in Aetna’s Voices of Health competition, HN could be awarded $20,000. You can vote for HN up to 4 times daily via your Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and Twitter accounts.
HN’s motto sums up their efforts and the spirit of Cleveland best: “Everyone has a place at our table,” and a $1 donation fills 4 plates at that table. Help fill those plates. Do it right now!