By Amy Pflugshaupt NBC15 Anchor | Photographed by Valerie Tobias
Four and a half million meals. That’s the goal of this year’s Share Your Holidays to Eliminate Hunger campaign. Looking at the numbers, 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 6 children in our local communities are facing struggles of hunger, according to Feeding America.
Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin is the largest food bank in the southwestern part of the state, filling nearly one million food requests every year.
“Eliminating hunger is something I am deeply committed to and passionate about,” says Michelle Orge.
She became the new president and CEO of the organization this past summer. While she’s getting familiar with the need in the 16 counties served by Second Harvest, one thing she wants to make clear is that there isn’t a spike in need during the holidays; it’s a year-round problem.
She says it’s only highlighted this time of year, because so many holiday traditions have some sort of connection to food.
Every dollar that is donated stays local and will provide up to three meals. You can make a difference by volunteering just an hour of your time too. Numbers from Second Harvest show that one hour of volunteering can provide up to 75 meals.
Julie Hitt is one of many volunteers and the program assistant for the Diabetes Wellness Program.
A nurse by profession, she under- stands the impacts the lack of healthy food can have on people, including effects on mood and health.
“’Hangry’ is real. You can’t be kind to other people. You can’t take care of yourself. You reach for things that aren’t healthy because you are hungry so you eat those potato chips as your meal rather than things that are healthy choices,” says Hitt.
Approximately 45% of all the work done at Second Harvest is done by volunteers. Hitt gives about 15 hours a week to the foodbank.
“It’s very flexible. There are [hours during] weekends, evenings, during the day, so anyone can really work that into their schedule,” says Hitt.
Throughout the course of the holiday season, there are more than 200 food and fund drives happening around the area. You can also donate during NBC15’s Share Your Holidays Telethon on Dec. 11. On that day, all donations made online will be doubled as well as those made during “Mike’s Miracle Minute.”