Fighting Hunger and Racial Injustice on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Every Day
January 17, 2022
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described poverty as one of the most urgent items on the agenda of modern life, along with racial injustice and war.
In his 1964 Nobel Lecture, “The Quest for Peace and Justice,” he said, “We cannot be content to see men hungry, to see men victimized with starvation and ill health when we have the means to help them.”
He was talking about the “social and economic gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ of the world.”
While emergency food assistance is important and necessary; we believe it is not enough to provide a temporary fix. We cannot be content to see men and women merely “fed” when we as a society have the means to change the reasons why they are hungry. Racial injustice and poverty are intertwined.
The Drexel University Center for Hunger-Free Communities found people with experiences of discrimination in school, hiring, at work, in public settings and in interactions with law enforcement show statistically significant associations with household food insecurity. These experiences can have a big impact on opportunities for economic security. Never was this more apparent then during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We believe if the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is going to achieve our Bold Goal to provide access to enough nutritious food for everyone struggling with hunger in each of the 27 counties we serve, then we must acknowledge and help to address the underlying inequalities caused by the longstanding economic and social disadvantages of systemic racism. To do that, we must first learn more about our neighbors who have these experiences, empathize with them, respect and humanize them, and ensure we are providing the food resources they need to be productive members of our society.