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Hunger in North Georgia

Here's How You Can Help!

by Rachel Sprouse

As the new year starts, commercials shift from holiday messages to gym memberships, and focuses change from donations to New Year’s resolutions. While some worry about what foods to eat to live a healthier lifestyle, others are struggling to put food on their plates.

Although the holidays are a great reminder to donate to local charities to support those in our community, the need for basic resources like food is a year-round issue. In 2017, 40 million Americans struggled with hunger in the United States. In Georgia, one in seven people are not certain where their next meal will come from, according to Feeding America.

Food insecurity can affect people from every background, but many aren’t sure what it is or how to help end this growing problem in our communities. Food insecurity is the inability to consistently provide food for your household.

According to Millie Hughes, director of the food pantry operation at Never Alone, food insecurity often arises because of difficult choices a person must make.

“They can either pay the light bill or purchase food,” Hughes says. “It’s not necessarily that they’re not trying [or] not having a job. It’s just there’s not enough to go around to provide all the needs that they and their family have on a monthly basis.”

To supplement the lack of resources, many go on food stamps, now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program allows families to stretch their food budget and offers assistance to those who struggle with food insecurity. Many households also reach out to local food banks and food pantries for assistance, like the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Never Alone.

Since it began five years ago, Never Alone serves about 300 families in Cherokee County, acting as a resource for those in need. From their building, they can warehouse donations and allow people to “shop” for their food in a dignified way.

“We feel like there’s a lot of food insecurity in the area, and we need to address that,” Hughes says.

According to Feeding America, many food-insecure households that received assistance in 2014 live at or below the poverty line. Poverty can come about in many ways, but it can be categorized as situational or generational.

Situational poverty develops from a change in a person’s daily life. These changes can vary from job loss, death in the family, or change in access to transportation, among other issues. Situational poverty can be short-term or long-term, depending upon the circumstance, and can progress if left unresolved.

Generational poverty, however, is a much harder form of poverty to help others recover from, according to Hughes. Generational poverty describes families that have lived in poverty for at least two generations.

“Who knows why it ever started, but then it’s a cycle that continues,” Hughes says. “One thing they have found is often the people in generational poverty are not really supportive of those getting out of generational poverty because they’re afraid of it. They don’t understand, and they feel so bad about themselves, they’re not necessarily supportive.”

Although both types of poverty are present in north Georgia, based on her experience helping families, Hughes thinks we have more cases of generational poverty present in our community. North Georgia also has a higher rate for food deserts, which Hughes says many people have misconceptions about.

“A food desert just means it’s harder to get there, especially fresh fruits and fresh vegetables,” Hughes says. “Fresh food, not just canned.”

Knowing that our area has a high rate of need, we can help those who struggle with hunger in our communities by supporting local food banks and food pantries throughout the year. Whether it’s a financial or a food donation, consistently supporting a food pantry helps families who struggle to put food on the table.

One way to support your community is to run a food drive within your workplace or group of friends and neighbors. If you’re not sure what to collect, reach out to the food pantry and get a list of what they need.

“When someone hears about a food drive, they always think green beans, corn, and carrots,” Hughes says. “But we need soups; we need canned pastas and tuna.”

Another way to help eliminate food insecurity in our area is to make a financial donation. Food pantries can put your financial donations to good use and acquire food at a lower cost than in a store.

With the start of a new year, remember that need and poverty carry over from the year before. Make it a resolution to support your community, and donate or volunteer at your local food pantry. You never know which friend or neighbor you may be helping.

Food Pantries
in Cherokee County

Bascomb Mission Thrift Food Pantry
9550 Main Street, Woodstock
Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm Wednesday-Friday;
10:00am-4:00pm Saturday

Least of These Ministries, Inc.
Serving all of Cherokee County
Hours: Call for an appointment

MUST Ministries
111 Brown Industrial Parkway, Canton
Hours: 10:00am-2:00pm Monday-Friday

Never Alone Food Pantry & Clothing Outreach
291 Rope Mill Road, Woodstock
Hours: 10:00am-2:00pm Monday-Friday
10:00am-2:00pm first & third Saturdays of each month

Papa's Pantry
6551 Commerce Parkway, Woodstock
Hours: 9:30am-2:30pm Monday & Friday
9:30am-4:30pm Tuesday-Thursday

Timothy Lutheran Church - Timothy's Cupboard
556 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock
Hours: Appointments available
8:00am-12:00pm Tuesday & Thursday

Food Pantries

in North Fulton County

The Drake House - Food Pantry
10500 Clara Drive, Roswell
Donation Hours:
Call for drop-off times.

World Harvest Church
320 Hardscrabble Road
Donation Hours:
Call for drop-off times.

North Fulton Community Charities
11270 Elkins Road, Roswell
Donation Hours:
9:00am-5:00pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
9:00am-7:30pm Tuesday and Thursday