Posts Tagged ‘hunger’

Do you know a hungry child?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Summer feeding sites are open all over Alabama to serve free meals to children under 18, without proof of need. Alabama Possible published a map and sortable database with feeding locations, meals served, dates open, and phone numbers on its webpage at Summer is a particularly vulnerable time for the 436,279 Alabama students who participated in free or reduced lunch during the 2013-2014 school year. Many kids run the risk of missing meals without the guarantee of in-school breakfast and lunch. To address this need, there are more than 700 summer feeding sites across the state this year.

Alabama served kids 385,547 more meals at more than 100 new summer feeding sites during 2013. Summer feeding expansion is a initiative of the  End Child Hunger in Alabama campaign. Over the past year, Alabama Possible has collaborated with the Alabama State Department of Education, regional food banks, and the USDA through the task force. The resulting 30 percent boost in meals served was the biggest in the Southeast, and it moves Alabama closer to the national goal of 40 percent participation.

Alabama served a total of 1,650,652 meals during the summer of 2013. This compares to 1,265,105 in 2012. This moved Alabama up in the national participation rankings to 43rd, compared to 47th in 2012, according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) report “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation.” Children under 18 are eligible to eat for free at these summer feeding sites. Most of the sites serve lunch, but some also serve breakfast and dinner. Different locations have different meal times. Additionally, some feeding sites make meals available for purchase by parents and accompanying adults at a low price.   2014 Summer Feeding Map To locate the summer feeding site nearest you, check out our map or text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877.

What’s on your plate?

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Temple Beth-El Earth Day Community Conversation Connects Local Food, Anti-Hunger Efforts

photoOn Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining Little Savannah Co-Owner Maureen Holt, a slow food advocate, for an Earth Day community conversation with Temple Beth-El (TBE) members about local food and anti-hunger efforts in Birmingham.

Alabama has the second highest rate of hunger in the country, and Birmingham has the 12th highest rate of food hardship amongst major metro areas. It is also nationally known for its local food scene.

Thus, I was challenged to connect eating local and fighting hunger. As I followed along with the day’s Torah readings, a passage from Leviticus Chapter 19 jumped out at me: “you shall not favor the poor and you shall not honor the great.”

Exactly, I said to myself. Locally grown produce and farmers markets should not just be for the affluent; in a just society, there should be choices available to all of us, regardless of income.

In order to build food justice, we need many different kinds of people, organizations and businesses within a community to work together to increase access to healthy, affordable, fresh food produced and processed locally.

While many Birmingham residents are familiar with the Pepper Place Farmers Market, WE Gardens and the Eastlake Farmers Market also host regular markets. Eastlake accepts SNAP/EBT and Senior Nutrition Coupons. To find a farmers market near you (or in a community you would like to explore), check out this list from the Year of Alabama Food and this one from the Greater Birmingham Community Food Partners.

Many thanks to TBE Community Conversation Co-Chair and APP Board Chair Joyce Spielberger for inviting me to speak to her congregation. Thank you also to her Community Conversation Co-Chair Toby Siegel and TBE Executive Director Bob Greenberg for coordinating the program.

We are especially grateful to have TBE join our faith partnership with a monetary donation.  TBE’s Earth Day program was sponsored by Dalia & Keith Abrams, Suzanne & Howard Bearman, Chico Bomchel Memorial Social Action Fund, Barbara Bonfield, Barbara & Scott Brande, Cherie & Bob Greenberg, Sheri & Jimmy Krell, Vicki & Art Lewis, Esther Schuster & Allen Shealy, Gail & Abe Schuster, and Joyce Spielberger.

For information about APP’s anti-hunger work, or how your faith community can join APP’s Faith Partnership, please contact me at 205.939.1408 or

Above: TBE Community Conversation Co-Chair and APP Board Chair Joyce Spielberger, APP ED Kristina Scott, and TBE Community Conversation Co-Chair Toby Siegel outside Temple Beth-El.


Alabama is fat and hungry? Yes, it is.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

On Saturday September 22, the Wetumpka Herald posted a column from Managing Editor Peggy Blackburn with the headline “Alabama is Fat and Hungry?” Here’s an excerpt:

One report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ranks Alabama as fourth in adult obesity rate at 32 percent of the population.

That seems like a reasonable estimate, especially given the charts used in determining if a person’s weight is under, over or in the normal range. I know some muscular folks the charts actually gauge as overweight.

Contrarily, a report published by the Food Research and Action Center said 23.4 percent of the state’s residents reported that they couldn’t afford enough food for their families and also reported going hungry. That is the second highest percentage in the country.

It is difficult for me to reconcile the state being the fourth most obese while at the same time being the second hungriest.

The categories are so specific it seems unlikely any of the people in one group could qualify for the other. If the respondents are all different, that would mean only 45 percent of Alabamians are neither overeating nor starving.

I don’t say it’s impossible, but it seems odd.

Although we applaud the managing editor’s efforts to educate herself about obesity and poverty in Alabama, we felt her article mischaracterized the data. We sent this letter in response:

Dear Ms. Blackburn:

This email is in response to your column “Alabama is fat and hungry?” which was posted on Saturday.

Today it is quite common to be both hungry and obese.

Poverty causes hunger, and nearly 1 in 5 Alabamians live in poverty. Poor families contend with challenges like low wages, part-time work, and unemployment – factors that make it difficult to afford food.

Conversely, obesity impacts Alabamians of all walks of life. The Center for Disease Control estimates that in 2011, 31 percent of Alabama adults were obese.

The Food Research and Action Center cites some reasons why low-income people are especially prone to obesity, including:

• Many low-income communities lack full-service grocery stores but have a proliferation of convenience stores that do not stock fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

• Healthy, low fat food is more expensive than low cost, high calorie options.

• Low-income communities have fewer recreation options and higher rates of crime. These higher crime rates (or fear of crime) cause many families to keep their children indoors. Poor kids also do not have the same access to afterschool and summertime recreational activities and sports.

• Being poor is often stressful, which can result in disordered eating, reduced physical activity, and depression – all factors related to weight gain. In addition, hunger and/or poverty can cause production of a stress hormone that is associated with obesity.

The Alabama Poverty Project is a nonprofit resource center dedicated to reducing systemic poverty and its root causes across Alabama. APP educates citizens about poverty, motivates colleges and faith-based institutions to engage in poverty-reduction activities, and advocates for fact-based policy decisions statewide.

We invite Alabamians who are interested in learning more to visit our web site at

Kristina Scott

Executive Director, Alabama Poverty Project