Thursday, December 3, 2020

Guest Blogger Series: Alfredo Estrada “Raising Awareness of Hunger”

Join Us at the NO MAS HAMBRE Summit on May 17!

“¿Tienes hambre?” For me, those words evoke my grandmother asking if I want  yet another helping of arroz con frijoles. But for too many of us, they have a darker meaning.

Believe it or not, nearly one third of the Latino community goes hungry. No, that’s not a typo. Nearly one in three of us suffers “food insecurity,” the clinical name for not having enough to eat from day to day. When I first learned of this grim statistic, my initial reaction was that it had to be a mistake. After all, I went to Harvard and I’m the editor of LATINO Magazine, and it’s my job to know these things. Since I didn’t know it, how could it be true?

But the figure comes from Household Food Security in the U.S., a demographic study undertaken by the USDA each year.  Over 50 million people in the U.S. face hunger, 14.6% of all households. But  for Latinos  the figure is 26.9%, so we are almost twice as likely to go hungry than other Americans. The study was undertaken in 2009, which didn’t fully reflect the economic recession, so the truth is probably worse.

Once convinced of my ignorance, I asked some of my peers, some as overeducated as myself. As it turned out, they knew just as little about it. When I told them the facts, their response was just like mine, one of disbelief…until I showed them the numbers. There’s no way around it, no way to explain away or argue about this statistic. It is what it is.

“So how could we not have known?” we asked ourselves. By then, my reaction had turned from incredulity to anger. We should have known! We live in the wealthiest country there ever was, and we have the resources to feed everyone. Many Latinos go hungry because they simply don’t know where to find emergency food services like Soup Kitchens or how to apply for government programs such as SNAP (food stamps) And many of us who have more than enough to eat simply don’t know about the specter of hunger haunting our community.

That’s why we started NO MAS HAMBRE. At LATINO Magazine, we felt that if we could inform our readers about this crisis, we could encourage them to get involved and make a difference in their communities.  NO MAS HAMBRE will raise awareness of hunger in the Latino community through articles in LATINO Magazine, our website at nomashambre.com, and our upcoming NO MAS HAMBRE Summit taking place  at  9-4 PM on May 17, 2011 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.  We’re bringing together community leaders, hunger relief advocates, government officials and ordinary people to help us develop a Latino anti-hunger agenda. And that’s just the beginning…

Please join us! You’ll hear speakers such as Vicki Escarra, President of Feeding America, and participate in roundtable discussions with panelists such as Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of LULAC. Attendance is free and you can register online at  http://www.latinomagazine.com/nmhregistration.htm. Help us spread the word about NO MAS HAMBRE. Because no one should go hungry.

Alfredo Estrada is the founder of LATINO Magazine, which focuses on issues, politics and culture and is available online at Latinomagazine.com. His latest book is Havana: Autobiography of a City (Palgrave, 2009). For more information about NO MAS HAMBRE, please contact him at info.nomashambre@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Yep. And this sad figure will only be increasing soon with the summer vacation since many students who would usually benefit from a free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch at school will go hungry at home during the next few months.

    It’s time we all paid attention to this issue taking place right in our own backyard.