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Having run through $700 billion in a bailout bill with nothing to show for it, Congress and the President are now salivating over how to spend another $1 trillion that, at best, will do little to stimulate the economy or create jobs. At the same time, however, the people of this nation continue to be the one’s stepping out and making a difference.
Take the Society of St. Andrew, for instance.
The Big Island faith-based hunger relief organization stepped up big last year.
During the last four months of 2008 this national organization was able to dramatically increase the amount of food it distributed to critical feeding agencies around the nation at a time when their shelves are essentially bare. In direct response to the escalating need faced by the nation’s hungry and the agencies they reach out to for food, the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) made a push in the last few months of 2008 to meet those needs. According to a release from the organization, 91 percent more food was distributed nationwide by the Society of St. Andrew from September through December 2008 than during the same months in 2007 – from 3.7 million pounds in 2007 to nearly 7.1 million pounds in 2008.
The society also reported that its hunger relief programs had increased year over year, as well. Excess food gleaned in fields and orchards and from packing houses was up almost 25 percent from 2007. Bulk loads of potatoes and other produce salvaged through their Potato & Produce Project were up. Overall, pounds of food saved and distributed during 2008 were up nearly 16 percent – from 20.2 million pounds to 23.5 million. All this food nourished hungry Americans with more than 70 million servings of fresh produce.
While government believes in throwing money at its problems, the Society of St. Andrew and other faith-based and civic organizations go about the business of making a difference.
SoSA reported conducting more than 3,200 gleaning and Potato Drop events throughout more than 20 states last year. Nearly 31,600 volunteers picked and bagged that food.
People make the difference, not foolish government spending.
“All of this points to a very healthy ministry,” said Mike Waldmann, SoSA’s executive director. “In order to maintain this much-needed increased level of food salvage and distribution we must depend on the generosity of our donors. There’s an abundance of food out there that, if not redirected to those in need, will go to waste. How much food SoSA can redirect to critical feeding agencies throughout the year is directly related to how much financial support we receive year in and year out.”
The organization reported that it can provide a serving of food for about 2 cents while keeping its overhead expenses well under 10 percent. That’s making a difference and being frugal in the process. The government could learn a lot from that kind of action.
SoSA is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit suppliers of fresh produce to the hungry. It gleans America’s fields and feeds America’s hungry. It effectively tackles the problem of food waste and hunger in America through its grassroots Gleaning Network, Potato & Produce Project, Harvest of Hope and Hunger Relief Advocate programs, which salvage fresh produce that would otherwise be wasted. That food is then donated to feed the hungry.
This nation’s government could learn from such efforts.