As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

February was spent getting ready to host a gathering concerned with food insecurity here in Pierce County, Washington. It was held this morning, March 1, and I believe it was a success. At least I hope so.

One of the groups that I’ve been significantly involved in is Pierce County Hunger Advocates (if you haven’t “Liked” the page on Facebook, quit reading right now and go do it. I’ll wait).

We began as a local chapter of Bread for the World, and have since expanded to partner with Fish Food Banks of Pierce County, WA.

The steering committee, of which I am a member, has sponsored training sessions for representatives of various churches in the county, so they could conduct an Offering of Letters in their congregations. We have also visited the food bank locations and registered voters, so that those in need could advocate for themselves. Bread for the World was one of the leading voices in helping change the Farm Bill to minimize the cuts to SNAP (formerly Food Stamps). We didn’t get everything we wanted (still $8 billion in cuts over 5 years), but at least it wasn’t the original $20 billion.

Beth Elliott, the Executive Director of Fish Food Banks, was one of the speakers this morning. We learned that over 1,500,000 people visited various food banks in Pierce County, last year. Fish Food Bank, itself, served over 560.000.

We also heard from Matt Newell-Ching, the regional director for Bread for the World. We heard about this year’s focus, which is to streamline and improve international Food Aid. You can read about it on the Bread for the World web-site.

Our featured speaker was the Honorable Derek Kilmer, US House of Representatives, 6th District. He brought us up to date of the status of food aid internationally, the need for an adjustment to food aid in the United States, the pending immigration reform bill, and other matters happening in Washington, DC. He told us that the State of Washington ranks 15th in food insecurity in the country. He also spent time answering questions from the audience, and was very forthcoming about what we can and should expect from our representatives and senators.

By PROVIDING education to a group of people, and empowering them with facts to address some of the most pressing problems regarding food insecurity, I think I am doing my part.

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