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Let’s paint the Valley orange Thursday to help the hungry



Published: Wed, September 4, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Consider for a moment the many wonders of the color orange. It — as well as many other variants of red — works to increase oxygen to the brain, yield invigorating physical effects, stimulate mental activity and arouse appetite.

Such are the findings of psychologists and other researchers on the impact of color on food and the senses. Orange clearly stands out as a stimulant to hunger.

Throughout the Mahoning Valley in September, orange should also stimulate action to fight hunger and its devastating health and social consequences on our community.

HUNGER ACTION MONTH’S PREMISE

That’s the premise of the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley’s Hunger Action Month over the next four weeks. The local campaign is part of the Feed America network of more than 200 food banks in the United States that have chosen orange as the backdrop of its monthlong drive to collect food and raise funds to adequately stock pantries for the long cold winter ahead.

We join Second Harvest in urging residents throughout Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties to wear orange Thursday to show their support for the campaign. In addition, we urge all members of this army of orange to go beyond mere appearances by committing themselves to making a concrete impact on the fight against hunger in our community.

Multiple ways avail themselves to do so. Caring residents can participate in a food drive, make a monetary donation to the SHFB or volunteer their time and effort at the organization’s sprawling warehouse and distribution site on Salt Springs Road in Youngstown.

WHY YOU SHOULD PARTICIPATE

Clearly the ongoing need for hunger relief shows no signs of abating anytime soon in the nation or in the Youngstown-Warren area. Consider this recent data from Second Harvest:

The Mahoning Valley in 2012 witnessed a 14 percent increase in the number of people requesting emergency food assistance, and Second Harvest’s 153 member agencies distributed food to 15,000 people per week.

More than 39,000 children in the tri-county area live in poverty. And according to the Ohio Department of Education, 52 percent of the children in the Mahoning Valley are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

Some 35 percent of Mahoning Valley food recipients report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medication, 31 percent must choose between paying for food and paying their rent, and 51 percent must choose between food and utility service.

Such sobering statistics are mirrored statewide and nationwide. That’s why Gov. John Kasich and his wife, Karen, have acted nobly to become leaders in Hunger Action Month activities in Ohio this year.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The beginning of the school year provides a timely opportunity to build school spirit and community goodwill with student-sponsored food drives. Other charitable, athletic, corporate groups as well as businesses can lend a hand as well. Many already have pledged their support. Contact the SHFB for information and registration for such drives.

Time and again, the Valley has galvanized its can-do spirit to help the hungry. Just last year, residents rallied behind the Walmart Foundation’s nationwide hunger-relief campaign online by giving the Youngstown-Warren area the greatest number of votes and $1 million in cash to assist Second Harvest and other programs.

This year’s call to action will require more than a clicking frenzy, but we’re confident that given the compelling and growing need for hunger assistance, our Valley once again will display its benevolent and humanitarian character to make Hunger Action Month a rousing success.


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