Hard to believe, but it’s true. There are 54,080 individuals in Polk County struggling each and every day to get enough to eat. The hunger crisis affects one in five children in our community according to FeedingAmerica.org. As a result, their health suffers. Their school performance declines. Their self-worth is compromised. Our reputation as a thriving and caring community is also at risk. Partners in our community invest more than $16 million annually to feed those in need, but it’s not enough. It’s time to address the crisis by ensuring these children and their families have access to needed food. Working together, the goal of truly being a hunger-free Polk County is within reach.
THE FACES OF HUNGER
"I’m on a fixed income, and it’s not enough to get by. I rely on visits to the food pantry to supplement my needs. I don’t know what I’d do without it."
"I don’t make enough to pay for everything. I can choose between paying bills or buying food, so I choose bills. Now I have my daughter living with me, and she actually makes good money, but it’s still not enough somehow."
"My income changes all the time, depending on how much work I can get. Sometimes it’s enough to pay for food. Too often, it’s not."
In 2015, Polk County Supervisor John Mauro initiated a conversation with key stakeholders that eventually became the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County to address the county’s hunger crisis. Members of the Partnership represent a diverse range of concerned individuals and organizations, including health care providers, religious institutions, universities, senior and community centers, government agencies, food banks and food pantries. To better assess the hunger crisis, the Partnership commissioned a food insecurity study to identify obstacles and barriers for both food providers and recipients as it applies to meeting the needs for emergency food and meals in Polk County. Based on that study, the Partnership developed a plan and will act as a catalyst for change in ensuring residents have access to needed food.
The study commissioned by the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Polk County concluded that one of the best ways to address the food insecurity of Polk County residents was by providing more and better access to food resources. This can best be accomplished by achieving several key initiatives documented in the Partnership for a
Hunger-Free Polk County proposal.