"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

September is National Hunger Action month, an annual initiative to support food banks and individuals and families across the country facing food insecurity. Staff at Catholic Charities three office locations know that this issue affects many of our neighbors.

Many working individuals and families who struggle to make ends meet don’t qualify for social service safety net programs. Often they must choose between adequate, nutritious meals and other necessities. Vulnerable individuals in our community are often most affected by food insecurity: children, seniors and people with disabilities.

Without the fuel to meet the energy needs of a growing body and mind, children can suffer physically and mentally from improper and insufficient nutrition. The nature of being dependent on parents or guardians means they are not in control of their circumstances, which can result in an ongoing struggle to remain well-fed even when they are older.

Seniors who may live on Social Security often must choose between food and medical care costs, like copayments, deductibles and prescription medicine. The rate of food insecure individuals over age 60 continues to rise and is projected to continue rising as baby boomers age.

In Blair County, the food insecurity rate is 12.6% with 15,880 people considered food insecure* Cambria and Centre Counties have a food insecurity rate of 13.5% and 13.8% respectively adding over 40,000 to the people in our service area who are food insecure. These numbers represent only three of the eight counties served through Catholic Charities.

As Jesus fed thousands with loaves and fishes, Catholic Charities is called to feed the hungry in our communities. Through emergency financial assistance and other services, Catholic Charities gives neighbors in need a hand-up. In September, and all year, Catholic Charities offers help and hope, thanks to your generous support.

*All statistics gathered from the Feeding America website.