NC 4-H is ‘Hungry to Help’

Date posted: September 22, 2010

Media Contact: Dr. Mitzi Downing, Extension Assistant Professor and Specialist, at mitzi_downing@ncsu.edu or 919.515.8487.

The North Carolina 4-H Youth Development Program is teaming up with the Food Banks of North Carolina to promote awareness of hunger in North Carolina and to make an impact in local communities through a new hunger awareness initiative called Hungry to Help.

According to Dr. Marshall Stewart, State 4-H Leader at North Carolina State University, “Exciting plans are underway to prepare 4-H’ers, 4-H volunteers and alumni to host a variety of hunger awareness programs, canned food drives and sponsor hunger-related volunteer efforts in their local communities.”

North Carolina Cooperative Extension offices across the state — 4-H is an extension program — will become drop-off locations for canned food collections, and “the entire extension family is gearing up to prepare participants to be citizen leaders for hunger relief,” Stewart said. The Food Banks of North Carolina are affiliates of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.

One of the initiative’s short-term goals is for 4-H’ers in all 100 North Carolina counties to conduct canned food drives during national 4-H week, the first week in October. 4-H recognizes that knowledge and understanding are powerful tools in the battle to end hunger, and that food insecurity undermines our nation’s investments in education and health care.

In May 2009, Feeding America released the results of its first analysis of food insecurity in early childhood, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005 – 2007. North Carolina ranked second worst in the nation with 24.1 percent of its children under 5 judged to be food insecure and lacking regular access to nutritional food. The state was 10th worst in food insecurity among all children. The analysis used statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nationally, the food insecurity average is 17 percent for children under 5.

Hunger is a problem hiding in plain sight in North Carolina. Whether it involves skipping meals, eating less than is needed to live a healthy life or making do with foods that are filling but not nutritious, hunger’s effects can be devastating, especially among our more vulnerable citizens, including children and older adults.

Additional information on the Hungry to Help initiative will be available on the N.C. 4-H website at www.nc4h.org in the coming months. More information is also available from Dr. Mitzi Downing, extension assistant professor and specialist, at mitzi_downing@ncsu.edu or 919.515.8487.

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