Schedule of Free Events
Wednesday, September 5: Poverty Simulation
4:30 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.
David D. Hunting branch, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids
RSVP Shelly Helmus by Sept. 1, Shelly@accessofwestmichigan.org
Thursday, September 6: Healthy Food Cook-Off
5 p.m. — 7 p.m.
United Church Outreach Ministry, 1311 Chicago Drive SW, Wyoming
Contact Shawn Keener, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, September 7: Agency Open Houses
Agencies include local food pantries, Catherine’s Health Center, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.
Visit the hunGRy? Facebook page for a complete listing
Contact Emma Rosauer, email@example.com
Saturday, September 8: “Hunger Hits Home”
10 a.m. — 12 p.m.
Loosemore Auditorium, Grand Valley State University
Contact Ashley Abbott, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hunger Action Week returns for its second year this September. The annual series of events, organized by the Food and Nutrition Coalition, a subcommittee of Kent County’s Essential Needs Taskforce, boasts a revamped itinerary and a sharper focus on advocacy.
The series begins Wednesday, Sept. 5, with a poverty simulation coordinated by Access of West Michigan and hosted by the YMCA at its David D. Hunting branch in downtown Grand Rapids. This free event allows participants to experience one month in poverty, as they try to survive on a painfully limited budget.
On Thursday, United Church Outreach Ministry hosts a healthy food cook-off at its site on Chicago Drive in Wyoming. The cook-off pits local chefs against each other as they create original dishes with YMCA Veggie Van produce and food pantry staples. Guests will be able to sample food from both the guest chefs and the Veggie Van staff. The Fair Food Network will also distribute information about Double-Up Food Bucks, a program offering matching grants for SNAP recipients who shop at participating farmers’ markets.
Hunger relief agencies across Kent County open their doors to the public on Friday to give curious visitors a glimpse into the world of food pantries and food banks. The Paper Plate Project, on display at most locations, tells the story of hunger through the voices of food pantry clients.
The week concludes with a showing of Food Network’s short documentary about childhood hunger “Hunger Hits Home” at Grand Valley State University’s Loosemore Auditorium. Afterwards, viewers are encouraged to translate their knowledge into action by decorating paper bags for Kids’ Food Basket’s Sack Supper Program.
According to Emma Rosauer, Hunger Response Director for Access of West Michigan, Hunger Action Week is an awareness campaign designed to counter misconceptions with statistics. In a year when political candidates of both parties are bandying slogans about poverty and nutrition assistance, Hunger Action Week is a platform for Kent County agencies to deliver a unified message about hunger.
“It’s a great venue for going deeper than what we might just assume or what we’re told,” Rosauer said.
“There are 84,000 people in Kent County who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and 32,000 of them are children,” said Elianna Bootzin of Feeding America West Michigan. “There are some big legislative issues being discussed right now [regarding nutrition assistance], and we encourage people to go learn more about them.”
Bootzin hopes attendees will share their Hunger Action Week experiences with their family, friends and representatives.
Special Thanks to the Following Organizations
One of the nation’s largest and most effective food banks, Feeding America West Michigan reclaims edible surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. It stores, processes and distributes that food through 1,250 local food pantries and other hunger relief agencies in 40 West Michigan counties. More than 100,000 West Michigan families rely on food from Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.