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Food banks mark 'Hunger Action Month'

| Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

For thousands of families in our area, hunger never takes the day off.

Struggling with a decline in the economy, and seeing more of what is termed at the “working-class poor” area food banks recognize September as “Hunger Action Month,” hosting events and activities to bring more focus to the increase in need.

“There are many special activities happening throughout Westmoreland County to help to mobilize the public and make people aware of the plight of the hungry in our community,” Westmoreland County Food bank development director Jennifer Miller said. “First, food drives held by an organization can make an immediate community impact on hunger. Second, you can be an advocate for ending hunger by ‘Going Orange for Hunger.' Do you have a lit facade in front of your building? Do you have a substantial lobby with high traffic? Do you have a pole-lamp in front of your home? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Hunger Action Month may be something you can get involved with.”

Miller explained the color orange is the symbolic color for hunger, and individuals, businesses and groups can use the theme of the month to display the vibrant hue in show of support for those in need.

“Each September, individuals, businesses, organizations, and government institutions dedicate the lights outside of their buildings, fountains, bridges, landmarks, lobby signs, and more to show support for ending hunger in our community,” Miller said, explaining that if someone wishes to be a part of the orange display, they can choose only one day to do it if they do not wish to participate all month long.

Food drives will also be held in abundance this month, as businesses and groups band together to gather food before the upcoming holiday season, a time when a hot meal is especially scarce in many households.

“In terms of community support this is a very slow time for us,” Miller said. “Our community is a very generous community and we truly could not do with we do without their support, but during this time of the year community support is desperately needed in preparation for the holidays. The number of people seen tends to raise for obvious reasons as we draw closer to Thanksgiving. We try as much as we can to assure that our consumers have something to be thankful for and try to provide holiday foods for them over and above what they are already receiving.”

During the month of September, the Westmoreland County Food Bank will also be kicking off its annual Turkey Cup Challenge, an event that will be celebrating its eighth year.

The food bank is looking for interested schools to participate.

“This is a fun and spirited competition among, potentially, all of the Westmoreland County schools to see who can collect the most donations for the food bank to purchase holiday food for those in need throughout the county,” Miller said. “It's a great way to teach community spirit, while at the same time helping to feed so many needy families.”

The food bank will also host the sixth annual “Sing for Their Supper” event Sept. 21. Toyota and Hyundai of Greensburg will donate $50 to the Westmoreland County Food Bank for every new vehicle sold during September.

“This September, join the Westmoreland County Food Bank and Feeding America, and together, we can solve hunger,” Miller said. “As individuals, charities, businesses, and government, we all have a role to play in getting food to those in need. There is no immunity to hunger; it affects us all, especially in today's economic climate. It's times like these that make the Westmoreland County Food Bank so important to so many people. We're here to provide a helping hand to those in need, whenever they need it. We gratefully welcome the support of all those willing to help their neighbors.”

There will be food drives on the following dates:

• Sept. 21-22: Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart.

• Sept. 28-29: Sam's Club in Greensburg.

For information on the food bank and its programs, call 800-462-2080 or visit www.westmorelandfoodbank.org.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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