Trying to end hunger in the U.P.

Hunger is a problem that has grown dramatically over the last three years in the country and in the Upper Peninsula.  Residents and non–profit agencies are struggling to find a realistic solution.

September is “Hunger Action Month” – a month–long campaign to help end hunger across the U.S.  But, in Upper Michigan, the need is as high as many people who run food pantries can ever remember.

“The need right now has been greatly increased in all four of our food pantries and financial aid offices.  Over the last few months we see an increase in people applying for food and people applying for help,” District President of the St.Vincent De Paul Society of Ishpeming MaryAnn Wolf said.

“The numbers really increase as fall comes.  As it gets colder and the funds that go to heating their homes get thinner and thinner, the need increases a bit more.  It’s always the basic things.  The skillet meals, the mac and cheese, the things that are easy to make and can make a meal quickly for families.  Things like peanut butter and jelly are the kinds of foods we can never keep enough in stock.  It goes out quicker than we can get it in most of the time.  Things like that are a staple that any family could use,” Corps Officer of the Salvation Army Lieutenant Stephen Hansen said.

Some estimates are that one in six people in the United States are at risk of hunger.  That is more than 50 million people – including 16.7 million children.

“If you don’t have food to donate, you’re more than welcome to give us monetary donations.  Which then, in turn, we take and buy food from the food bank or at the local grocery stores if we need that,” Wolf said.

“We are always looking for volunteers to help with out food program or working the food pantries.  Their time is something they could give, if they have it,” Hansen said.

Marquette County non-profit agency officials say the need is year-round, and they are always accepting donations of food, money, and volunteer help.