Hunger in America: How Did You Become Aware?

By Andrea Sherwood

Growing up on a farm and living most of my life in Iowa amongst proud people, I still find myself in awe of hunger in America. I have been involved in this hunger fight on American soil for a short 2.5 years. Prior to this “hometown fight” my involvement was with world hunger. I was completely unaware of the severe hunger problem we have here in America. This problem is in the communities where we live, work and play. Was I blind, uninformed, and unaware? Yes. Was I uninterested, uncaring, and unwilling to join the fight? No. Once, aware of this problem it has become a passion of mine both in my work life and personal life.
Why was I unaware? Why didn’t I see this hunger?  I don’t ever want this to happen with another issue again! After some lengthy pondering I think I may have part of the answer.
 I grew up in the heartland of Grundy County, Iowa, in a community where people are proud, generous, helpful, and welcoming. People are also stoic with emotions and troubles. At the same time, they are always giving.
You see, being proud is not about being boastful, arrogant, uncaring or greedy. Proud people try to take care of troubles and business while putting up the front that all is well. We would much rather give than even think of receiving.
In communities like this, what happens if people let those fronts down or ask for help? People get more than what was imagined when living among proud people. Why is this? It is because neighbors are also proud. They too want to help.
So, I believe that hunger is hard to see in America because it goes beyond the stereotypes of the pictures we see in the media and across the world. Does it mean that hunger is any less of an issue here in America? No, absolutely not. It means we are proud, we don’t want to ask for help, we don’t want to need help. It is much easier to give than receive.
In the coming weeks, I will share stories of inspiration from the past two-and-a-half years of working to end hunger in the community where we live, work and play. You will see real life examples of the proud people who have joined me in this fight to end hunger in our community!  Now that I am aware, I see it everywhere. I want to help increase awareness because my experience tells me that once aware, action is taken! I believe that together we can end hunger!
Please comment about how you became aware of this issue of hunger in America or what got you involved in this hometown fight? Who or what has inspired you to be involved?

3 Replies to “Hunger in America: How Did You Become Aware?”

  1. Mark Anderson

    Hey Andrea,

    I became aware of hunger at a very young age through my parents who were intentional about making us aware of hunger in our community and "encouraging" our participation in hunger relief efforts.  Since my father was a sociologist, our family vacations always included side trips to encounter the people in places like the Harlem, Appalachia, and Washington DC of the 1960’s. Now that I am a father, my family has been on service trips to Guatemala, Mexico, and Chicago. My daughter is a hunger fighting machine organizing her peers learn about, lobby against and actively fight hunger.
  2. Jon

     Hey, Andrea. I know your passion for hunger and want to help in any way I can. I have seen it first hand also and it is hard to see, but it is harder to forget. Once you have seen it, you cannot forget it. That is why those of us that have seen it and worked with people that are faced with it, feel compelled to help out. I help out as a volunteer at the local food bank. I also help with a food drive. Right now, it is not much, but it is something. I am getting my son involved too. He sees the need and he is 15, an age when the only thing important to teens is their self-image. He sees it though. He has been at the food bank when families have stopped in for assistance. His friends and neighbors have had to use the food bank. It gives him prospective that even though his parents cannot afford many extra things, he still has it pretty well off.

    I advocated for hunger relief in my time with United Way. You don’t drop those feelings overnight. I will help with your … our fight to end hunger.

    Thanks for including me Andrea. Your big ideas only match the size of your heart. We miss you up here in Iowa.

    Be well and count me in.

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