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The Hunger Game

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Big events, like FBSJ's Hope Mobile are a godsend as you'll pick up 5 days of food in one stop.    But chances like this don't come every day, or every week, just once a month.   Deborah, Joan and Paul all drove 20 miles, about 30 minutes, each way to get to the Browns Mills Hope Mobile.   They were early birds and waited just three hours to receive about $50 worth of food.

So, to win the Hunger Game, you will gather information on where the pantries are and when they are open.    You will talk to a counselor at your child's school and enroll your children in whatever programs may be available.   You will get pre-qualified with the local food bank.   If you're an older citizen or physically disabled you may be able to get your food delivered, if possible, or a senior center or other nearby agency to relieve you of the need to stand in line.  

The Hunger Game comes with an excellent support feature.    You are not alone.   Organizations like the FBSJ and other Feeding America organizations are playing the game and they're on your side.   Besides procuring surplus food and donations to buy food for you, they are also working every day to figure out who is hungry, where they are and how to get food to them as easily as possible.

For example, demand for food and the need to get more food to more people spawned the Hope Mobile.   

Preston Beckley the Hope Mobile Program Manager at FBSJ is obviously proud of the good work and success of the Browns Mills event.    Not only have 600 pre-qualified families received food, another 28 families were qualified at this event.   That's well over 1,300 people getting food they need in one quick shot.

Next year, FBSJ's Beckley plans to expand the program from 9 sites to 16 sites.    "There's a real need and it's increasing.   With this program we are able to supplement pantries that can't keep up with the increased need.   We can also bring the truck to places that have no pantry."

That's the point of many of the FBSJ's programs:  find ways to get the food to the needy.   For seniors it's home delivery.   For school children it was a weekend supply of food for the child, but that soon turned into a program of school based pantries were parents could obtain a weekend supply of food for the entire family. FBSJ supplies food to over 200 agencies, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, special services, church and faith based organizations in their four New Jersey county service area.

Nobody wants to see an important donated resource, like food or food stamps, turned into a nefarious business enterprise.     But why do people have to prove they are in need, a reasonable requirement, but also spend excessive amounts of time and money to get help?

The Hunger Game shouldn't just be about getting food.    It's getting food, keeping a job, working toward a self-sustaining future, getting the necessary education and to the point where you can afford all the necessities of life on your own.  

Eliminating the Hunger Game

If hunger is the problem, food is the answer and the Food bank of South Jersey is just one of over 200 such non-profit organizations that serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, distributing more than 2.5 billion pounds of food and grocery products annually under the national organization Feeding America.

Traore's organization is the hub of an intricate, charitable food distribution system designed to provide sustenance to anyone hungry in four south Jersey counties when money for food is scarce.  

Hers is part of a shadow system to the gigantic profit driven arrangement that has made relatively inexpensive food easily available everywhere.    They do a great job at minimal administrative cost and deserve your support.

Shouldn't there be a better way?    After all, there are already large caches of food nearly everywhere in places called supermarkets, wholesale clubs and big box department stores?    I put that question to Traore and she agreed.

"I'm sure our services are not accessible to everyone who needs emergency food in our area and that's a function of logistics," confessed Traore.   So, what can be done?

"My wild idea is that certain food, what I call ground provisions," explains Traore, "should be free and available at all major food outlets."   She defines "ground food" as basic, no frills food stuffs.   A protein, maybe chicken, maybe just dark meat chicken, though I believe people deserve a whole chicken, a meal and soup after.   Flour or basic bread.   A green vegetable and a fruit, canned if not otherwise.   Milk.

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Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration (more...)
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There was no where to really put this in the story... by Chaz Valenza on Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010 at 2:14:28 PM
greed of the ruling elite pushes the masses toward... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010 at 2:16:51 PM