A regular feature of this newspaper, for almost as long as it’s been published, are the stories of local people doing good deeds abroad. We routinely cover individual mission trips to Africa, home-building trips to Guatemala by Teenagers Inc. and local church food and clothing drives. This week we have just such a story on two young, local women who are traveling to Honduras.
Northwest Philadelphia, particularly Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy, are filled with homes of the fortunate. They are among the city’s most well-to-do ZIP codes, and it’s good to know that our neighbors are using their privilege to give to those in need.
While traveling abroad to aid the less fortunate is clearly a noble act, a recent series in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local news organizations shows that anyone looking to help the less fortunate doesn’t have to travel very far.
The current series on hunger in Philadelphia and the greater Philadelphia region should be truly eye-opening for everyone. Part of a specially funded group reporting project called “Broke in Philly,” (see brokeinphilly.org) the Inquirer’s stories over the weekend paint a stark picture of the need less than 10 miles away.
There are too many people in this city without enough to eat. The food insecurity rate nationally is 12 percent. In Pennsylvania, it’s about 13 percent. In the city of Philadelphia, the rate is 21 percent. And according to the Inquirer’s reporting, areas in North Philadelphia and Kensington have food insecurity rates as high as 30 percent.
The Unites States as a whole is the second most food-secure nation according to data collected by The Economist. Only Ireland does a better job of feeding its people. But in the nation’s poorest ZIP codes – and Philadelphia has the deepest persistent poverty among America’s 10 most populated cities – hunger rates are on par with some of the world’s poorer countries.
In many ways, persistent hunger in Philadelphia is not necessary. As the Inquirer’s Alfred Lubrano writes, however, “the fixes recommended to bring about a solution — expanding SNAP, boosting wages, giving workers sick leave and family leave, and limiting tax breaks for corporations to reroute funds to people in poverty — are not readily embraced by Congress, state legislatures, or even many citizens.”
In fact the current presidential administration has proposed cutting SNAP food assistance benefits by 25 percent.
Locally, one of the best ways we can get involved is to donate to local food drives – both with food donations and local pantries and in cash donations to organizations like Philabundance. Donations can be made directly to the organization by visiting philabundance.org/donate.
In addition, local resident Ruth Brown started a food drive affiliated with Philabundance at the Chestnut Hill Library, 8711 Germantown Ave. Among the most needed Items, Brown said, are: canned fruits and vegetables, canned tuna, other canned meats, soup, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, rice; cooking oil and whole grain pasta.
Too many people go hungry in our city. It’s time to do all we can to fight hunger locally.