‘Round up:’ Dayton hunger initiative pushes way to combat food insecurity

Hunger Action Month is coming to a close. More than 1 in 10 U.S. households are “food insecure”

Customers at Gem City Market can help those in need get nutritious food by paying a few extra cents on their next grocery bill, as part of a Hunger Action Month effort.

Former Congressman Tony Hall announced Tuesday that the Hall Hunger Initiative is teaming up with the market this week to raise money for Catholic Social Services’ Choice Food Pantry. People who shop at Gem City Market, at 324 Salem Ave., can round their grocery bill up to the nearest dollar and the money will be used to help people in need.

“Hunger is all around us,” Hall said.

Prices for many food items have risen this year, and colder months bring new challenges that can lead to more hungry families. For instance, heating bills are expected to become more expensive this year, which could make low-income families struggle to afford to buy the food they need.

ExploreCold months bring new challenges to those who are food insecure, officials say

“A lot of people just aren’t making it, and what happens is sometimes food just gets sacrificed and oftentimes people go without food and it’s not good,” Hall said. “When you have poor nutrition, poor health comes in, and all kinds of bad things happen.”

More than 10% of households in the U.S. were food-insecure in 2021, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. About 12% of households with children also faced food insecurity in 2021, meaning at times it wasn’t clear if their family would have money or other necessitates to acquire food, the USDA said.

September is Hunger Action Month, and Hall said it’s a good time to help others. The Hall Hunger Initiative is donating $2,500 to the cause.

“It only takes a few cents, a couple of dollars, to help us. Reach across the road and help your neighbor and help your friends,” he said.

The program will go through Friday.

The need for services is growing here, said Mike Lehner, Catholic Social Services director of marketing and development. He said the pantry’s guests usually use it about once or twice a year to help bridge a gap and that the pantry is close to serving just as many people as it did before the pandemic. He said the pantry aims to provide people with a balanced selection of food.

Gem City Market Community Programming Manager Morgan Hood said the market is always looking for ways to address hunger here. She said it is also a place people can gather and help each other.

“This is where people can come and be in community, grow together, commune and learn,” she said.

Hall and Lehner said the market plays a big role in providing food access to the neighborhood.

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