With the holiday season passing, many people find themselves donating coats and toys for those in need. Many also may be donating to families that aren’t able to afford a holiday meal.

In reality people don’t go hungry only during the holidays, and food insecurity does not discriminate. Food insecurity does not mean you’re homeless. It doesn’t mean you don’t eat at all. Food insecurity means you don’t have access to nutritious, affordable food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 13.6 percent of Maine is food insecure while the national average is 11.7 percent. One in five children in the state is food insecure, and 16 percent of Maine seniors are at risk of going hungry. Even more shocking, 37 percent of the food-insecure population in our state is not eligible for public assistance.

Why is it that people are going hungry yet are considered to have too much income for assistance? Not because there is a food shortage in Maine or because people choose to go on vacations rather than eat. The truth is that people suffer hardship and Mainers are choosing between basic necessities.

Many organizations work diligently to assist those in need. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Cumberland County Food Security Council and the Good Shepherd Food Bank are examples. Donate your canned goods all year round and contact your legislators and tell them our food assistance programs need to change.

The 37 percent needs you. We are Mainers, and we won’t let our community go hungry.

Kimberly Gibson

Saco

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