Imagine helping feed 500 people in order to fight hunger in your hometown. Jill Chandler of Fayette, Missouri, does this twice every month. Her efforts through the Fayette Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry help feed approximately one-sixth of the city’s 3,000 population. In this rural town where cattle outnumber residents, most people would be surprised to learn about the widespread need for food.
This holiday season, more than 3 million households in rural communities will face hunger. The counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are more likely to be found in rural areas, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2015 study.
Chandler is making a real difference through her volunteer work managing the food pantry. Recently the organization was able to enhance their menu of options thanks to Invest An Acre, a program of Feeding America that provides resources for hunger-relief organizations that serve small towns and rural communities across the United States.
Over the years, Fayette County has grown older, with many of its younger residents moving away, leaving mostly retired citizens on fixed incomes. Part of the food pantry’s mission is to deliver food to a senior housing complex. Thanks to their involvement in Invest An Acre, the food pantry was able to add meat to their regular grocery deliveries.
“One gentleman said ‘this is the only meat I get in a month’s time’,” says Chandler. “He is a retired veteran who plays guitar and travels around entertaining nursing home residents, volunteering his musical abilities. Several others receiving donations voiced the same struggle to make ends meet.”
“When you’re of a certain age and on a fixed income, sometimes you have to make a choice,” Chandler explains. “Whether it’s your medical bills or other payments, at the end of the day it’s often your grocery bill that doesn’t make the cut, which can be especially felt around the holidays.”
The need for food never goes away, notes Chandler, who strives to make a positive impact for community members both young and old.
“I think about the children more than anything else,” she says. “Children don’t choose to be in the position they’re in. And I cannot go to sleep at night knowing that we’ve got hungry kids, because there’s somebody else who has food who can share.”
With Jill’s help, more community members in Fayette County will have one less thing to worry about when winter arrives. Invest An Acre is an easy way to join her example and help people struggling with hunger in your own community. The good news is that anyone can donate to Invest An Acre and be sure they are helping their neighbors in need because every dollar donated goes back to your local food bank. Plus, every donation is matched dollar for dollar, so contributions double the support provided to local families facing hunger. Hopefully this year, because of people like Chandler, more Americans facing hunger can have a brighter holiday season.