The organizers of the World Food Program remind us that hunger is a problem that has plagued humanity for millennia. But just because it persists does not mean that we can’t be the generation that ends hunger.

According to the World Food Program, one in 10 people in the world goes to bed hungry. In Maine, it is one in six. Over 200,000 Mainers are struggling to access enough nutritious food.

Based on statistics gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine now ranks seventh worst in the nation for food insecurity, falling from its previous position as ninth worst. When it comes to what is called “very low food security” – that’s real hunger – we are third worst in the nation.

Good Shepherd Food Bank has developed an awesome network of sourcing and distributing nutritious food, connecting with other programs such as Meals on Wheels, Full Plates, Full Potential, United Way, and hundreds of programs run by churches, schools, businesses and individuals. By leveraging the capacity of this network and food donations from farms and retailers, Good Shepherd has been able to provide a nutritious meal for just 25 cents per meal.

The meal gap – which is the number of meals Mainers can’t access through self-sufficiency and government supports like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – is estimated to be 36 million meals.

Crowdsourcing? Over 700,000 Mainers filed taxes last year (some jointly). If each donates just $6 to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine would become first in the nation to end hunger by thus engaging our citizenry.

It is a civil and a divine right to have one’s hunger met first with charity – that is, an adequate amount of nutritious food – and then with social justice – that is, concerted efforts made through public policy actions to eliminate the causes of poverty.

Sara Lambert Bloom