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Hunger Awareness

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MIDDLEBURY — May 29 through June 2 is Middlebury Hunger Awareness Week, which serves to raise awareness about hunger in the area.

The MiddSummer Camp Summer Lunch and Recreation Support Group, which sponsors the week, said there will be activities throughout the week highlighting some of the many ways hunger and food insecurity are being addressed locally. The week’s activities include:

• Refreshments and information about MiddSummer Camp ’06, an adventure-based experience for fourth- through sixth-graders, will be available in Middlebury’s Triangle Park on Monday during the Memorial Day Parade. MiddSummer Camp, based at Mary Hogan Elementary School, provides fun and learning along with nutritious breakfasts and lunches each day.

According to Bonnie Totten Adkins, chairwoman of the Summer Lunch and Recreation Support Group, this summer’s camp will include outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and caving along with growing vegetables and cooking.

“Almost 30 percent of Middlebury area youngsters are facing food insecurity,” Adkins said. “Others are becoming obese. So our focus this year is on lots of outdoor physical activity and helping the kids prepare nutritious meals and snacks from their own garden.”

To learn more about MiddSummer Camp or to volunteer, contact Adkins at badkins@sover.net or 352-4526.

• A showing at Ilsley Public Library on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. of “The Red Wagon: Facing Hunger,” a new film about hunger in Vermont directed by Jim Ritvo. The director will be on hand following the showing to discuss the film.

• Eat pizza for a good cause Tuesday through Thursday. Green Peppers Restaurant will share the proceeds of all three days — lunch or dinner, eat-in or take-out — with the Summer Lunch and Recreation Support Group, sponsors of MiddSummer Camp.

• Donate used cookbooks to young families receiving WIC benefits. Collection boxes will be available at most area houses of worship as well as at the food table during the Memorial Day Parade.

America’s Second Harvest: The Nation’s Food Bank Network has recently completed Hunger Study 2006, a comprehensive profile of the incidence and nature of hunger and food insecurity in the U.S.

Their study is the largest of its kind with more than 52,000 individuals sharing their stories through face-to-face interviews and 31,000 hunger relief agencies completing survey questionnaires. Those agencies provide emergency food assistance to more than 25 million Americans — including nearly 9 million children and 3 million seniors — annually. Since 2001, the number of clients these agencies serve annually has increased by 8 percent.

Almost half of those interviewed reported having to choose between paying for utilities or food; more than a third said they had to choose between paying for rent or food; and almost a third reported having to choose between paying medical bills or food. The complete study is available at www.hungerinamerica.org.

Hunger has a face, and the face may be that of a neighbor, a co-worker, a classmate of your child or someone you pass on the street. The folks in our community that provide emergency food assistance suggest the following steps concerned citizens can take:

• Write your national legislators and local officials to let them know that hunger in Vermont is an important issue to you.

• Every time you go to the grocery store, buy several dollars worth of items to donate to the local food shelf, and at the end of the month, take what you have collected to the food shelf.

• Donate money to the food shelf. With every dollar contributed, a food shelf can purchase $4 worth of food from the Vermont Food Bank.

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