A strong examplePublished 4:54pm Saturday, January 5, 2013
On Friday, the Herald’s front page featured a story about the work that St. Olaf’s Church is doing to fight hunger in the Austin area. Like several other organizations in the area, and thousands throughout the country, people at St. Olaf’s have recognized that hunger is a major problem in America and decided to do something about it. It’s an effort we hope more will join.
An outgrowth of poverty, hunger affects somewhere between 12 and 15 percent of people in the Austin area — statistics that are similar to those in many other parts of Minnesota. It is a problem that quietly affects many seniors, many children and many people in between those ages. It is a problem that is seldom evident to those outside the families affected. And it is a problem that simply should not exist in a society where over-eating and obesity are also major issues. Clearly, there is no shortage of food in the United States, or in Austin. What is lacking is a means to see that all who need a meal get one — and one more meal a day is all many who are now hungry need.
St. Olaf has been a leader in a type of hunger relief known as “backpack” programs, providing children with packs full of food that they can take home — without making a big deal of it. Backpack programs, which help one of the most vulnerable groups, are a wonderful way for people to help people — without government, without the bureaucracy of huge non-governmental organizations. The St. Olaf effort sets an example that, if more were to follow it, might ultimately solve a very solvable problem. We hope leaders throughout the community will take note.