The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.
There are, indeed, starving kids in Africa. Our mothers weren’t lying to us. The sad reality, though, is that there are starving kids everywhere – sometimes right down the street from us, or even right next door.
Twenty two percent of Murray residents live below the poverty level, according to City-Data.com. Furthermore, 25.5 percent of children in Murray live below said poverty level and 28.1 percent of “very poor” residents (living below half of the poverty level) are between 18 and 24 years old – the age range of most college students.
Many of these residents and children suffer from food insecurity – they don’t know where their next meal will come from.
In 2014, 12.4 million adults and 7.9 million children lived in food-insecure households, according to USDA.gov. Even worse, 914,000 children experienced “very low food security.”
Local nonprofits, such as Need Line and Soup for the Soul, are doing what they can to help these people, but we all need to do our part as well.
The Murray Art Guild, for example, held an event Oct. 23 called Empty Bowls – an effort to raise money for the impoverished and hungry, where bowls are made by local citizens, filled with soup for the event’s meal and sold to attendees.
If other local businesses and organizations made similar efforts, food and meals wouldn’t be such an insecurity. Murray State is no exception. We can do more. We need to do more.
Yes, we have Racers Helping Racers – a food pantry for Murray State students offering canned/boxed foods, toiletries and more. Yes, Murray State Dining services reuses as many ingredients as they can, limits Winslow patrons to one entree item at a time and keeps a strong eye on the number of goods ordered vs. consumed. Yes, several Greek organizations regularly hold canned food drives and collect donations for Murray nonprofits.
These are valiant efforts, but food insecurity on and off campus remains a problem.
For one, students need to exercise self-control – a Winslow “meal” of fries, lasagna, a chicken wrap and a waffle for dessert just isn’t necessary, and will likely result in a conveyor belt stacked with plates filled with uneaten food. Dining Services is doing what it can to reduce food waste on their end, but the real problem is that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.
We’re taking food for granted, when so many people would love just one bite of our discarded plate of tater tots.
“The quest for food security can be the common thread that links the different challenges we face and helps build a sustainable future,” said United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.
This quest seems never-ending, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be.
We’re not going to beat around the bush here – this is a blatant call-to-action:
Stop wasting food.
Donate regularly to canned food drives and to your local food pantries.
Volunteer at said food pantries and at local soup kitchens.
If you see a panhandler on the street and you don’t feel comfortable giving them money or you don’t have cash to give, buy them a hot meal.
Take a moment to comprehend the fact that your stomach is or will be full, and that some people have never felt that comfort before.
Digest that, and do something to help.