A gift to follow

Published 5:01 pm Saturday, October 15, 2011

Any time a gift hits the five-figure mark it is significant. Hormel’s $10,000 gift this week to the Salvation Army and to the Meals on Wheels program, however, was particularly important and timely amidst growing recognition that Austin, Mower County and, indeed, all of Minnesota have more hungry people than most have realized.

It’s tough to pin down exactly how many people in the area miss a meal every day because they are forced to choose between food and other expenses. What is known is that it’s somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent of the population is affected. That’s a hard fact to accept, in a land where obesity is a major health problem and we often seem to be awash in food and wasted food. Unlikely as it seems at first glance, however, a variety of factors pile up to leave some of our neighbors hungry: High barriers to government programs, isolation, pride, limited alternatives and a lack of information about those alternatives all work together to leave some individuals short of food. As a group, senior citizens struggling with fixed incomes are particularly likely to be affected.

Whether the hungry are seniors, children or somewhere in between, the affects of bad nutrition can be debilitating.

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Hormel’s gift this week has a value that extends far beyond the food it will supply to people who are hungry. It calls attention, as have a series of similar gifts in other communities where Hormel operates, to a problem that receives far too little recognition. Putting an end to hunger, a problem which simply should not exist in America today, will take efforts from individuals, companies and communities alike. We’re glad Hormel is making a major contribution.

We hope others will follow suit.