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Alabama recently ranked at the top of a list that might surprise most residents: Alabama has more residents who go hungry than any other state, according to a survey by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). And, the problem continues growing throughout the United States, especially among older Americans.
With that in mind, AARP and AARP Foundation have teamed with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, team owner Rick Hendrick, Feeding America and other allies to increase awareness of hunger through the “Drive to End Hunger” (DTEH) initiative. AARP is sponsoring the car – and this is the first time in NASCAR’s history a sponsorship is cause-based instead of commercial.
During the next three years, the initiative’s logo will be prominently featured on Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 car during 22 races and on portions of the car during the 16 remaining races. AARP will be on site at Alabama’s two NASCAR races in Talladega in April and October, and fan activities related to Gordon’s No. 24 car are planned.
By tapping into the energy and enthusiasm of NASCAR fans, some of the most passionate fans in any sport, AARP hopes to help build awareness, raise funds and engage all Americans in solving the growing hunger crisis.
AARP Associate State Director for Advocacy Outreach Anna Pritchett said, “In addition to enlisting fans' help in this fight, the DTEH initiative will extend our efforts by reaching out to people and organizations in local communities across the state. Whether it’s driving someone to a local farmers market or volunteering at the food bank, every Alabamian will have the opportunity to make a difference.”
Community volunteers are working now to organize a statewide food drive and kick off event at the beginning of April. To get the latest information about DTEH, visit the AARP Alabama site.
Facts About Hunger in Alabama
An average of 6.8% of Alabama households reported very low food security, or food insecurity with hunger, between 2007 and 2009. This rate has more than doubled since the last report in 2006, when 3.3 percent of households reported very low food security.
“Very low food security,” means people in the house ate less, and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because they lacked money for food, according to the USDA report. It most often means they worry the food in the house will not last until the next paycheck and they cannot afford to eat balanced meals. It also can mean meals are skipped and children don't get healthy meals.
The report, Household Food Security in the United States 2009, also found that, of the 1.86 million households in Alabama, another 8.2 percent had “low food security.” That is a less severe category that means there was some difficulty providing enough food for everyone in the house but there was no outright hunger. Together with the 6.8 percent very low food security rate, Alabama's total households with some level of food insecurity is 15 percent.
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