It’s almost hard to think of affluent Bucks County as even having food insecurity issues.
But the truth is, pockets of locals have always struggled to meet their own daily nutritional needs and those of their families.
The pandemic only worsened the situation.
According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, Bucks County’s rate of food insecurity before COVID-19 was just over 7 percent of the population.
By late 2020, however, it had risen to 11.9 percent.
Pandemic-related issues — unemployment, increased healthcare costs, strains on traditional social service resources — accounted for the current double-digit result.
To answer the rising need, United Way of Bucks County (UW Bucks) is taking the gloves off.
Its 2021 Bucks Knocks Out (BKO) Hunger drive is working to address food insecurity across all local communities.
The goals are ambitious: The outreach hopes to inspire donations of $100,000 and 30,000 pounds of food.
In positioning the request for support, UW Bucks stresses that all donations — even small ones — matter.
A simple toss-in of $50 provides a healthy breakfast for ten families. Doubling that to $100 enables the same ten families to receive a healthy dinner of turkey, broccoli, and noodles.
Support can also take the form of food donations. Several county locations are hosting sites in the June 18-19 BKO Hunger food drive. Volunteers will be on hand to facilitate drive-through, contactless drop-offs of nonperishable items. The event’s safety precautions remain, even as infection rates in the county decrease.
Although all forms of support are welcome, BKO Hunger gains the most necessary latitude from monetary donations. A check or cash enables the flexibility that is often crucial in helping people.
For example, canned and boxed goods at a donation collection site are appreciated. However, a cash, check, or credit card gift can mean fresh produce, dairy, and protein for a nutritionally challenged family.
As well-intentioned as the act of placing a case of ice cream on a hot June day at a donation site may be, it creates more problems than it solves.
“Bucks Knocks out Hunger is more important this year than ever,” said Marissa Christie, President & CEO, United Way of Bucks County. “We have a lot of folks who have been impacted for the very first time. People who were working perhaps in hospitality jobs or the service industry who have been abruptly laid off.
“We’re glad that they‘re able to get help. But it’s also stressing the system,” she said.
“For more than eight years, we’ve been making sure that people have healthy food, that kids don’t go to bed hungry, that seniors get nutritious meals. But this year is going to be tough. Right now, community conditions are more challenging. The financial impact on a lot of our families is devastating,” said Tim Philpot, Impact Director, United Way of Bucks County.
“There are hundreds of cars lining up, each car sometimes representing more than one household. These are folks who are in line to get food in Bucks County.
“We need more help than we ever have in the past. And we hope our community comes together to support it. It has never mattered more than it does right now,” concluded Philpot.
To support this worthy cause, go to BKO Hunger.