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Hansen: Looking for help lending helping hand to neighbors

Psychologist Abraham Maslow famously described food as the most fundamental of human requirements in his pyramid of human needs.

For most of us, living through a period of time without food is more often self-imposed than forced. We experience temporary hunger with the newest diet fad – say, intermittent fasting -- when we are experiencing an especially busy day or observing a religious fast day.

Real, uninvited hunger, however, is terrifying. Not knowing when or if the next meal is coming can destroy hope, faith and family.

It undermines communities and erodes nations. It is the most significant kind of separation into “have” and “have not.”

So why am I talking about this type of hunger?

We’re used to the subject of hunger in Third World countries, in areas suffering drought or war, but is this really a local issue? Is it really our issue?

The sad answer is, yes.

The Federal Census recorded almost 12% of people living in Yamhill County, about 1 out of 8, as food insecure. That is, they were not sure they and their families would have access to food when they were hungry.

Now we are in 2022.

Although there are no current statistics available, we know that the social and economic consequences of coronavirus have sent shock waves across communities. Families living in poverty, who were already struggling to access and afford food, have been put at even greater risk of hunger.

Earlier this year, I was privileged to sit in on the Mayor’s Hunger Task Force and learn about all the tremendous and innovative work being done in towns across Yamhill County. The conversations confirmed for me that right here at home, we have people and organizations that are working tirelessly to feed the poor, the houseless and the food insecure in our own backyard.

I would like to share a little bit about one of those wonderful organizations — Saturday Morning Breakfast in Mac.

If you’re not familiar with Saturday Morning Breakfast, it began almost 12 years ago as a charitable ministry of McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. Over the years, it has worked with the church and volunteers from all across our community to prepare a hot, nutritious breakfast every Saturday morning to feed our houseless and food-insecure friends and neighbors.

Having access to nutritious food is more than a basic human need. In an area that has plenty of food available, it can be argued that it is a human right.

Mahatma Gandhi captured the horror of hunger when he said, “There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

To anyone who suffers from hunger born of poverty, a good meal fosters more than good health. It imbues a sense of belonging and purpose in addition to relief from the very real pain of an empty stomach.

For many families, here as elsewhere, the impact of the pandemic has been catastrophic. It has left far too many facing the heartbreaking question: “How am I going to put food on the table for my family?”

Fortunately, in the face of this devastating reality, we also see the power of the human spirit and the remarkable ways that communities respond in challenging times. We see the good in people, in our neighbors and in entire communities as they come together to say they will not stand by while our neighbors go hungry.

Although Saturday Morning Breakfast has been very successful in its efforts in McMinnville, serving up to 425 meals in a single morning, organizers came to realize they needed to secure more funds to better serve the growing need for food and services. Consequently, they applied for and recently received their 501(c)3 charitable, nonprofit designation, which opens many more opportunities for funding.

This brings us to today.

The primary goal of SMB in Mac has always been the same — serve good meals for the food insecure in a safe, inclusive and community-oriented environment. But it sees a need to follow up on the meals by addressing the myriad number of reasons for the hunger in the first place, so has begun to work with other local charitable organizations, such as Encompass Yamhill Valley, Gospel Mission and YCAP, to coordinate efforts.

This allows for greater efficiency is applying limited resources in common purpose. It would be folly to think all the reasons for houselessness and food insecurity can be addressed locally, but it’s a step forward in making progress, increasing hope, instilling self-worth and fostering a feeling of security among more of us.

One of the best ways to actively fight hunger is for people from across the community to volunteer and/or donate money.

SMB in Mac relies on volunteers to literally be the wheels that make the bus go — to help cook, clean and serve a hot, nutritious breakfast with something warm to drink. But rising costs have served to more than double the funds needed to assist our neighbors.

When you volunteer with Saturday Morning Breakfast, or donate funds, you’re not only supporting access to nutritious food today. You are also building community power to work on eliminating hunger for good.

I would like to invite you to volunteer some Saturday, see the great work we are doing and hopefully become part of that effort. If you are able to also make a donation, you will be giving an additional measure of hope to another.

If you are interested, please contact me or sign-up using this link: https://linktr.ee/smbinmac

 

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