The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, yet on average 1 in 8 Americans will go to bed hungry tonight. In the state of New York, 1 in 6 children are affected by hunger. Food insecurity is the inconsistent access to nutritious food for a healthy life. Although poverty and food insecurity usually go hand in hand, families above the poverty line can still be food insecure if they do not qualify for government assistance or have hefty medical bills. Every race, education level, and community is affected by food insecurity, and Western New York is no different.
More than 45% of people live below the poverty line in Buffalo and Erie County, and more than 12% of Erie County is food insecure. According to Feeding America, 30% of all New York households benefiting from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps, have children. Although government assistance programs help these households, they often do not cover the full cost of three meals a day. That is where charitable programs and organizations like Hearts for the Homeless come in.
Hearts for the Homeless serves nutritious meals to those less fortunate 5 nights a week, 52 weeks a year. Their Mobile Soup Kitchen serves more than 12,000 meals every year, ensuring community members are able to dine with dignity. Relying on volunteers to serve and cook, donations of food and warm clothing fuel the mobile kitchen.
Soon, Hearts for the Homeless will be opening the Hearts Harvest Pantry and Café on Tonawanda Street, across from the Hearts Thrift Shop. Hearts hopes that this food pantry and full-service café will help give food security to residents in Western New York. You can help those in need in the community by donating online or through your employer.