With 144,290 people in New Hampshire going hungry, the N.H. Food Bank is launching a major statewide awareness campaign to urge New Hampshire residents and businesses to take action this month to combat hunger. Relying on a series of events, initiatives and competitions, the N.H. Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities N.H., is launching this campaign in partnership with Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks that coordinates the national Hunger Action Month every September. In addition, NH Food Bank Executive Director Mel Gosselin has been named the 2015 National Chairwoman of Hunger Action Month, a role she also held in 2014.
“I am proud to serve as chairwoman for Hunger Action Month once again this year and I look forward to another successful year making a difference for those most in need. The goal of Hunger Action Month is to mobilize the public to act on behalf of the one in nine men, women and children who are food insecure in New Hampshire and the 50 million people facing hunger nationally,” Gosselin said. “Hunger Action Month is our opportunity to create a movement that has a real and lasting impact on the N.H. Food Bank’s mission to help end hunger in our state. The N.H. Food Bank needs all the support we can get: last year, we distributed a record 11 million pounds of food and this year, we are expecting to distribute more than 13 million pounds of food—because the need is still growing.”
In an innovative, unique collaboration, the N.H. Food Bank kicked off the month-long campaign today at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport where the Food Bank has placed a vending machine selling spoons. The orange spoon has become the symbol of Hunger Action Month, dubbed “Spoontember,” as the spoon is not only used to eat, it is also used to prepare food, serve food and is the most common utensil used to feed those who cannot feed themselves. Throughout Hunger Action Month, the N.H. Food Bank is encouraging people to snap photos of themselves—“spoon selfies”—while balancing an orange spoon on their noses.
Gosselin was joined at the airport today by J. Brian O’Neill, deputy director of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, John Dumais, co-chairman of the NH Food Bank Advisory Committee, and president of the NH Grocers Association, and representatives from the NH Institute of Art for a ribbon cutting ceremony before the new vending machine, which has been placed in the baggage claim area and which was designed by students from the NH Institute of Art. People can purchase spoons for $2 each throughout September.
Deputy Airport Director Brian O’Neill remarked, “The airport is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the New Hampshire Food Bank and to help raise awareness about Hunger Action Month. We hope that visitors to New Hampshire, as well as local travelers, meeters and greeters and airport tenants, will help support this critically important program.”
“I’m thrilled that the New Hampshire Food Bank approached us to collaborate on this innovative project,” said Kent Devereaux, President of the N.H. Institute of Art. “Projects like this not only give our students and faculty an opportunity to use their creativity to raise awareness around the issue of hunger in our communities, but to appreciate how organizations such as the New Hampshire Food Bank make a difference by strengthening families, our community, and our own resolve to make the world a better place."
Hunger Action Month will feature a “Canstruction” competition, in which individuals, companies or groups are encouraged to build a structure with canned or packaged food items. Once completed, the cans are donated to the Food Bank for distribution to those in need. Canstruction judging will take place the week of Sept. 28. Bank of America is also sponsoring a “Mac-Off” competition on Friday, Sept. 18, in which teams compete to see how many mac and cheese meals they can pack in one hour.
The 11 million pounds of food the NH Food Bank distributed during 2014—which equates to 9,166,666 meals—marks a nearly 30% increase in distribution compared to 2013. The N.H. Food Bank, which receives no state or federal aid, projects to distribute more than 13 million pounds of food this year. The N.H. Food Bank distributes food to a network of more than 400 partner agencies statewide.
Along with Canstruction and the Mac-Off competition, the N.H. Food Bank is promoting a number of events, opportunities and initiatives this month aimed at raising awareness for those in need in New Hampshire, and to give people a chance to contribute to lasting change, including:
Show off your spoons! All month, the N.H. Food Bank is looking for people in New Hampshire to take “spoon selfies” while balancing an orange spoon on their noses, and to encourage their friends, family and coworkers to do so as well. Show off your spoons by tagging the N.H. Food Bank on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #Spoontember.
Volunteer! The N.H. Food Bank offers numerous volunteer opportunities, from administrative support to warehouse to direct distribution. Opportunities are available each week Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings. Too far from Manchester? Volunteer at a member agency. An agency list can be found at www.nhfoodbank.org.
The Sixth Annual WBS Harvest Golf Classic, which will take place on Monday, Sept. 14, is an annual golf tournament benefiting the N.H. Food Bank. The tournament will be held at the Manchester Country Club with an 11 a.m. shotgun scramble format. All funds raised at the golf outing will support the N.H. Food Bank's efforts to expand food distribution and innovative educational programs to reach those who need it most.
The N.H. Tackles Hunger food drive, which is a partnership between the N.H. Food Bank, WMUR and the N.H. Interscholastic Athletic Association, will take place on Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, during which food drives will seek donations during high school football games in communities across New Hampshire. All food donated during this weekend will go to local food pantries.
The Food Bank is urging members of the public to become a N.H. Food Bank Ambassador. As an ambassador, people can help the Food Bank extend its reach throughout the state by attending events on its behalf and building capacity for the organization. Being an ambassador is a great opportunity for individuals who want to make a commitment to being involved with the Food Bank but who are unable to volunteer at the Manchester facility.
For more information on Hunger Action Month and the various events that will be hosted by the N.H. Food Bank, please visit: www.nhfoodbank.org/Hunger-Action-Month.aspx.