Solving for “x”
By S. Kelley Henderson, Chief Executive Officer, Action Ministries
In April, I wrote about the challenges facing Georgia’s food insecure families. Food insecurity is real for 1 in 5 people in Georgia, and further impacts families with children at an even higher rate. Although there are many complex causes for poverty, some systemic and others very individual, solutions for food insecurity are less complicated.
Previously I stated that “true sustainable improvement happens when we begin to ‘walk with our neighbors’ toward solutions that they can ultimately make their own” (The Face of Georgia’s Hungry 4/23/2019). These solutions begin with providing “access” to food, then moving the relationship toward more permanent solutions. Improving access to food for a family is analogous to solving for “x” in an equation.
In the most simple equation, food plus “x” solves the challenge.
Food + x = Food Security… or using a numerical value below
6 + x = 10
We can easily solve this in our head… “4”
But 4 of what, what is x?
Unfortunately our equation becomes a bit more complicated once you add in the cost variables of transportation, other basic needs, and the time needed to navigate a list of community based resources (each with their own rules/schedules). In other words, the equation might look like this for a family struggling to put food on the table.
3x + 5 = x – 17
This one is not so easily solved, and that is the point I am trying to make. Understanding the value of “x” eliminates an obstacle.
For families facing food insecurity, eliminating a single obstacle just might help them be more successful in the long run. Poverty complicates a system that was designed to ignore certain nominal challenges (i.e. transportation, hours of operation). Another way of describing this system is using the example of our own shopping routine. We all have a favorite supermarket; which is likely close to home, stays open late, and has deals on the things we frequently buy. Imagine if your favorite market, began operating 10am – 4pm? Many of us would simply go to another market because we could not access the service we needed during our normal working hours. Most food pantries are not open during evening and weekends, yet a family struggling to get more hours at work is forced to navigate that limitation none-the-less.
Action Ministries has solved for “x” by providing opportunities for volunteers to eliminate the obstacles to accessing food.
- We actively seek Feed the Hungry pantry partners who open in the evening and on Saturday.
- We deliver Smart Lunch meals into mobile home parks and low-income neighborhoods during summer, holiday, and spring break.
- We also work directly with dozens of elementary schools to drop off weekend SuperPacks every Friday, so that thousands of kids can come back to school on Monday ready to learn.
The value of “x” is you…shoppers, packers, and drivers working together to eliminate the obstacles preventing hungry families from accessing a bridge to a better tomorrow. This month Action Ministries launched a new initiative called End Hunger Period so that you, your church, your business, and your neighbors can be a part of the not so complicated solution of addressing food insecurity. To learn more visit www.endhungerperiod.com and join our team!