Greetings, from the hungriest place in the country.
On April 7, the Food Research & Action Center released its annual index of food hardship in the United States. And while the state itself performed less than admirably — eighth highest in the nation — the Greensboro/High Point metro area, two-thirds of the Triad, led the municipal pack, up from the No. 2 spot last year.
The rate of 27.9 percent means more than a quarter of the households have not had enough to eat at some point in the past year. It is unacceptable. Unconscionable. Immoral.
It makes for a convenient political foil — conservatives who support SB 36 are using it to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the current city council, while partisans on the left can blame our hard-right General Assembly — but assuredly none of this matters to families who don’t have enough food to feed their children.
Government gets its fair share of the blame; surely this crisis needs government intervention, more so than just food drives, prayers and lip-service, and more than what we’ve been doing in the last year, during which the city slipped a place in the rankings.
The news reinforces the importance of the Renaissance Food Co-op, which recently received funding from council, and the group in High Point that’s developing partnerships with local curb markets to put healthy food on their shelves.
Food banks, free lunches and soup kitchens are absolutely necessary — how many would have starved in the last year without them? But they do nothing to address the root problem.
Our elected officials need to acknowledge this crisis for what it is.
Our elected officials need to acknowledge this crisis for what it is. Greensboro and High Point city councils must look at every issue they tackle through the lens of hungry citizens. Our representatives in Raleigh must remind their colleagues that the hungriest place in our state is its third-largest metropolitan area, with the same zeal they apply to job creation and economic development. The issues are related, because though hunger transcends the human concept of money, shared prosperity is a sure fix.
We must acknowledge that the working poor make up a fair component of the hungry and recognize the drain that low wages impose upon public coffers, while at the same time insisting that those on public assistance are given enough to feed themselves.
We must treat this as more than a PR problem, though indeed this new metric does little to enhance the Triad’s reputation as an ideal business locale. Why would anyone want to move to a place where so many people have trouble meeting a basic human need?
Of course we need more community gardens and farmers markets, fewer food deserts and better access to healthy food.
And we must not rest, none of us, until our neighbors have enough to eat.