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Another Voice: Feeding people in need builds a stronger community

By Kevin Murphy and Marylou Borowiak

September is Hunger Action Month, a timely reminder of the progress that’s been made to help individuals struggling with hunger in our region. Each month, the Food Bank of Western New York feeds more than 41,000 families through the organization’s 326 member agencies.

However, there are still many individuals and families who struggle to put food on the table, making it almost impossible for them to achieve financial stability.

The first step toward alleviating hunger is understanding this serious issue. Hunger affects people from all walks of life across the United States. Many hardworking Americans who have experienced loss of income face a tough choice between providing food for their families and paying for utilities.

Nationally, one in seven Americans – more than 46 million people – rely on the Feeding America network of food banks to put food on the table.

Families in our region are no exception. In fact, 186,000 people in the four counties served by the Food Bank of WNY do not have access at all times to enough food. Annually, the Food Bank of WNY assists 165,000 individuals who have visited an agency at least once in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie or Niagara County.

Without consistent access to good food, it’s impossible for individuals and families to thrive, which could be damaging to the community in the long run.

This Hunger Action Month, you can help support families who face hunger in our community. One way is volunteering at the Food Bank of WNY. We rely on volunteers to help fulfill our mission of obtaining and distributing nutritious food to the hungry.

If you can’t volunteer, another option is donating to Give A Meal, a Feeding America program supported by Bank of America that extends the impact of individual donations.

For every $1 donated through the end of the year, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will contribute $2 to support the Food Bank of WNY. Bank of America will match each individual donor up to $1,000, and up to $25,000 donated to the Food Bank of WNY will be matched with up to $50,000 from the foundation.

To donate to Give A Meal, visit www.bankofamerica.com/give. Enter your ZIP code and select the Food Bank of WNY as the recipient of your gift. Even if you can’t donate, posting the Give A Meal link via Twitter or Facebook helps raise awareness about the nearly 117,000 individuals who rely on the Food Bank of WNY on a monthly basis.

Let’s make sure area families don’t have to make painful choices between food and other necessities. We can fight hunger, help our friends and neighbors and build a stronger community.

Kevin Murphy is Buffalo market president for Bank of America. Marylou Borowiak is president and CEO of the Food Bank of Western New York.