Ambassador: Hunger a problem around the world and in Springfield

A line of people waiting for the Mobile Food Pantry wraps around part of the parking lot at Clark School in November. Bill Lackey/Staff

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A line of people waiting for the Mobile Food Pantry wraps around part of the parking lot at Clark School in November. Bill Lackey/Staff

A former U.S. Representative and U.S. Ambassador came to Springfield on Monday to raise awareness of hunger and poverty, saying it’s not only an international issue, it’s a Miami Valley issue.

About 21,000 people die each day from hunger around the world, said Ambassador Tony Hall, who’s also works with the Hall Hunger Initiative in Dayton. But he said the good news is that number’s been cut in half in recent years.

RELATED: Hunger increasing in Clark, Champaign counties

The city of Springfield was listed as the most food insecure city in Ohio in 2015.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties distributed more than 4.7 million pounds of food in 2016, with most of it going to about 2,000 new families each month.

Dayton has faced similar issues, Hall said, and it had a lot to do with the region losing about 40,000 manufacturing jobs in the early 2000s. The area hasn’t recovered from that loss, he said while speaking at the Springfield Rotary Club.

“All those plants paid about $27 to $30 an hour, which is a lot of money, and that was before benefits,” he said.

Today, women, children and seniors are in the workforce being paid about $10 and he said people are just not going to make it off that.

READ MORE: 22K don’t have enough food to eat in Clark County, hurts public health

Hall was recently in Southeast Ohio and two seniors he met were trying to make a can of tomato soup last for two weeks because their only source of income was Social Security.

Those people now go to local food banks and soup kitchens to fill the gap.

People in the area must take a hard look at the issue to combat it, Hall said.

“We need to work to bring businesses, nonprofits, church groups, et cetera, to work as a team to not only study the problem but bring the community back together to solve this problem,” he said.

If residents want to take action to address hunger issues, both locally and internationally, he recommended they contact their member of Congress, explore hunger in the area or even travel overseas to see it firsthand. He also suggested volunteering or contributing to life-saving domestic and global nutrition programs.

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