By Bruce Corris
Seeing all the pictures and video from the border of children being separated from their parents is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. It makes me want to do something for those children. I want to send them something. Money. Toys. Even a hug.
I can’t do much for them, but I am grateful that I can do something to keep children here in Western New York from suffering. They’re the children whose families can’t afford to put enough food on the table, or any food at all.
That’s why I’m so proud to be part of Walk Off Hunger for the Food Bank of Western New York. On July 28, we’ll have our 11th annual walk. In our first 10 years, we’ve raised enough money to provide 3.4 million meals for Western New Yorkers. And many of those meals have gone to children.
Those children are the reason Walk Off Hunger was created as a summertime fundraiser for the Food Bank. In the summer, when donations to the Food Bank drop, the need for assistance increases, and one of the big reasons is children. During the school year, thousands of local children are part of school lunch programs. But when school is out for the summer, there’s no lunch program for those children.
Every month, the Food Bank serves as many as 140,000 people in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, including nearly 55,000 children and infants.
Hunger hits home in every part of Western New York. It’s not just people who are unemployed. Many people who work more than one job need assistance. They just don’t make enough to pay their bills. Or they’ve had medical expenses, or other financial setbacks.
Hunger doesn’t discriminate.
Walk Off Hunger is held in Williamsville, one of the area’s higher-income ZIP codes. And there are people living near the walk, maybe even right along the route, who are being helped by the Food Bank.
Unfortunately, we all know someone with cancer, or diabetes, or one of many other terrible diseases. That connection makes us more likely to donate to one of those causes. Most people don’t think they have that personal connection to hunger. But they do. They just don’t know it. People don’t go around telling other people they’re getting food assistance. So chances are very good that you know some of those 140,000 people being helped by the Food Bank.
And when you help the Food Bank, it’s very easy to help a lot of people. It’s also very affordable. Every dollar they get helps to provide six meals. And they’re all going to people right here in Western New York.
So if you aren’t doing anything July 28, head over to Island Park in Williamsville. It only costs $25 to sign up for Walk Off Hunger (and kids 16 and under are free).
The walk is easy, only about two miles. And there’s a fun festival to follow.
Bruce Corris is a member of the Walk Off Hunger committee.