When some people think of hunger and poverty, they picture people struggling in different parts of the world - many of the countries where Heifer is already working. Very rarely do we picture families and individuals that are living in the United States, but it is a reality we need to recognize.
Many Americans are just one major illness or job loss away from sliding below the poverty line, and millions are already there. Roughly 46 million people in the United States live below the official poverty line. One in every five children in the country is food insecure, meaning he or she may have to forgo nutritious foods or meals all together because there's not enough money to pay for them.
I think we overlook the poverty here in the U.S. because it is difficult to accept and it is even embarrassing. With all the abundance of resources we have, why are people still hungry? Whatever the reason is - perhaps lack of knowledge or lack of access - it is undeniable that families are struggling.
But it doesn't have to be this way. And it is not a problem that "someone else" can fix. I want to ensure that we rid the world of hunger and poverty, and sometimes that means that the work starts at home.
I've received many letters or met with donors that have asked me how they can support Heifer's work in the United States. Heifer USA recently kicked off Seeds of Change, a five-year project to support and cultivate sustainable community food systems and create jobs in Arkansas and Appalachia. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other partners, Heifer USA will build a food system value chain that connects farmers with businesses , markets and their communities. I'm so excited about the outcomes from this project and most important is that this project links healthy local food and meaningful work.
Now this work will not happen overnight. It will take a lot of time, dedication and effort - from ourselves and from our participants - but change is coming.
Hunger and poverty aren't tomorrow's problems. We need to address them today, and with your support we can help families and individuals in need become empowered, self-reliant and economically stable.