Nebraskans going hungry, despite agricultural bounty

Monday, May 7, 2012

Agriculture is Nebraska's biggest industry, with $8.5 billion worth of crops produced in 2010, and with the exception of corn that goes into ethanol and a few other non-food products, it finds its way onto the dinner table.

That includes 1.5 billion bushels of corn and 258 million bushels of soybeans.

Nebraska's dairy cows produced more than 1.1 billion pounds of milk in 2010, Nebraska's laying hens produced 2.751 million eggs in 2010, and her slaughter plants processed nearly 6.8 million cattle and 7.7 million hogs in 2009.

Yet, in the midst of all this abundance, some of the same USDA sources shows that 12.7 percent of Nebraska households were "food insecure" in 2008-10, and 5.2 percent had "very low food security" over the same time. Nationally, nearly 49 million Americans live in "food-insecure" households, including more than 16 million children.

We won't go into the reasons some children are still going to bed hungry, suffice it to say they do, and there are things we can do about it.

One of them is participate in the annual Letter Carriers' Food Drive this Saturday.

Celebrating its 20th year, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has collected more than a billion pounds of food since its inception. Last year, generous Americans donated more than 70 million pounds of food, including 2,300 pounds donated through the McCook Post Office.

To take part, place nonperishable food items in bags and leave them by your mailbox before mail delivery on Saturday. All the food collected will go to the McCook Pantry.

That could include canned soup, canned meats, canned vegetables, fruits and juices, boxed goods such as cereal, pasta or rice. Do not donate items that have expired or are in glass containers.

The McCook Post Office also will have a food drive bin set up in its lobby all this week so customers can drop off their canned and non-perishable food items.

The effort is designed to fill food bank pantries through the summer months when levels are traditionally low. The effort by members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Rural Letter Carriers and other volunteers is the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

More information is available at www.helpstampouthunger.com or www.facebook.com/stampouthunger and follow the drive at www.twitter.com/stampouthunger.

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