To the editor:
The arrival of spring means the Christmas season is well behind us. Yet at least one opportunity from the holidays still remains, and two leaders with Indiana ties want all of us to get involved.
Peter Dunn is the former CEO of Steak 'N Shake, an Indiana-based company he led after an executive career with Kraft Foods. Dunn now chairs the board of America's Second Harvest, the nonprofit association of the nation's food banks, 12 of which are in Indiana.
His experience in the food industry fueled a passion for feeding the hungry, including hungry children, and the number of those children is rising. This increase reflects a surge in child poverty. Indiana's child poverty rate is now 18 percent, compared with 11.6 percent in 2000.
"The impact of child hunger is direct and devastating," Dunn said. "A hungry child can not learn, and an uneducated person can not earn."
Jim Morris agrees. Morris' remarkable career has included serving as President of Lilly Endowment and chairing Indiana University's board of trustees. He also has held top-level positions in government and the corporate sector. His recent five-year stint running the United Nations World Food Programme convinced Morris that "the real weapon of mass destruction in the world is hunger."
Despite these challenges, Dunn and Morris see opportunity. As Dunn asserted confidently, "Nobody is for hunger. Hunger is not a popular idea. This is a fight that can be won."
Dunn encourages community organizations and schools to help low-income individuals utilize public assistance programs. Community agencies can take advantage of the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (www.fns.usda.gov), as well as the Summer Food Service Program for Children which is offered through the Indiana Department of Education (www.doe.in.gov/food/summer).
While many of us responded generously to those holiday season food drives, the problem persists. Morris encourages Hoosiers to continue donating to food pantries, food banks and other community food relief programs. Even one bag of groceries donated each week can be vital.
By Bill Stanczykiewicz,
president Indiana Youth Institute