September is Hunger Action Month, an initiative established by nonprofit Feeding America to encourage Americans to stand against hunger. To participate, they’re asking people to volunteer, donate, fundraise and share their efforts on social media.
Feeding America says food banks are reporting a record increase in people seeking assistance this year due to COVID-19, with an average increase of 50% across the U.S. Since March, about 4 in 10 people were visiting food banks for the first time as a result of the pandemic. Lorna Fuglesten, volunteer coordinator for the Fergus Falls Community Food Shelf, says they’ve noticed an increase as well.
Although they only recently took operations back from the city, she says, “The other day we served 43 families, that’s huge. I’m going to say (we serve) an average of about 30 families a day, and that’s getting up there. It’s getting kind of scary.”
Fuglesten said donations and volunteers are always needed. For donations, she says financial donations work best, “But if someone wants to donate to us, any canned goods are wonderful.” Prospective volunteers can call the food shelf and leave a message and Fuglesten will return their call.
“Hunger has no boundaries,” she says.
In 2018, 37 million people in America struggled with hunger according to USDA’s Household Food Insecurity in the United States report. “We have to eat to survive, no matter if you’re high income or you’re low income or you’re medium income, everybody falls on hard times.”
Hunger and food insecurity can also lead to other issues, especially among children. Feeding America says children who don’t get enough to eat, especially in their first three years, are more likely to be hospitalized, face higher risk of conditions like anemia and asthma, and are more likely to struggle in school and socially.
“The thing about that is if we don’t have healthy parents or healthy children in our community, it tends to snowball, pretty soon they’re in a hospital — that type of thing. So nutrition is very important along with a lot of other things in our life,” says Fuglesten.
The Fergus Falls Community Food Shelf is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 1512 N. First Ave., in Fergus Falls.