It’s been a bit since I’ve blogged about food security. The other day I received a newsletter from the Association of Arizona Food Banks. The statistics listed rattled me — a reminder that it is good to use the tiny bit of soapbox power I have to discuss this increasingly serious social issue.

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One in five Arizona adults is hungry, and the rate is even higher for kids — one in four. In other words, they do not know where their next meal will come from. This means some 1.17 million people in our state are living meal-to-meal. Seniors. Babies. The working poor.

That’s a lot of folks, and it is easy to be overwhelmed. A few simple ways you can help with food security in your community — regardless of where you live:

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1. Find a local food bank and volunteer. Do what they need most. Maybe it is marketing, or sorting shelves. Maybe you are a great writer and can help with grants.

2. When you grocery shop, make a habit of buying an extra jar of peanut butter and can of tuna. These are inexpensive staples that are always in need.

3. See if your state hunger association has a tax credit program. In Arizona, you can donate up to $400 to AAFB and get the full amount back toward your state taxes. So, you give $400 to them and the state essentially matches it. Win/win.

4. Plant a garden. Find a place to donate a bit of your harvest. Produce is a luxury for families used to eating out of food boxes.

5. Consider keeping staples in your car to distribute, in lieu of money for homeless folks. These bags may include a bottle of water and a granola bar.

6. When you go out to eat, box up half of your meal for the guy sitting on the corner. Or — take it home and don’t be wasteful. Only in countries with such abundance does one hear the asinine, “I don’t eat leftovers.”  {This statement makes me so angry.}

7. Be an advocate. Learn about the hunger needs in your community and what can be done to address them on a policy level. Funding the Farm Bill should be a top priority. 

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Why is hunger important? Because those who don’t get enough to eat commit crimes of survival. Children don’t thrive. Tempers flare. Oh, and also — this is a social issue of political will. We have plenty of food for everyone to be full.

Do something. We don’t have to change the world. But we could each do one small thing. (And right there — that is how we do change the world!)