Northwest NEWS

December 4, 2000


Together we can make the world a little better

by Ruth M. Velozo, Director, Northwest Harvest
   The week before Thanksgiving, the lines at our Cherry Street Food Bank stretched a half city block up the street and around the corner - a scene repeated at hunger programs all across the state.
   While the lines for Thanksgiving were longer than usual, the tragedy is that there are long lines at food banks year round.
   Even with our booming economy and an unemployment rate that is the lowest in 30 years, many are being left behind. Over 500,000 people in Washington state are living below the poverty line.
   Many more working families, seniors and disabled persons although not meeting the official government definition of poverty are living on the edge due to the high costs of rent, medicine, utilities, day care and transportation.
   A recent USDA survey revealed that Washington state has the third highest rate of hunger in the country and that one in four children in our state are hungry or in danger of being hungry.
   More than 30 years ago, food banks opened their doors to respond to what we thought was a temporary emergency. Now food banks have become an accepted and seemingly permanent part of our society.
   We must not, however, accept this Band-Aid approach as the solution to the devastating problem of hunger. Hunger does not just impact individuals. It impacts our entire society and our future.
   We are grateful for the generosity of so many individuals, businesses, foundations, and community groups which enables Northwest Harvest to make life a little brighter for thousands who face a daily struggle for survival.
   Now it is past time to put even more effort into ending hunger. In a land of high technology, we must design a system that is lightning-quick in its response, simple, fair, humane, and accessible to all those who need food.
   Together we can make the world a little better.