For many readers of FLORIDA TODAY the Sept. 19 front-page story, "Hunger, a growing problem in Brevard County," may have been shocking and heartbreaking.
For those of us at The Children's Hunger Project, Central Brevard Sharing Center, and numerous other wonderful religious and secular organizations that address hunger, we are shocked and heartbroken every day. But we get over it and do what needs to be done to at least solve part of the problem.
Think about it. The story did not review hunger in Asia, Africa, Afghanistan, or numerous other areas around the world that we might refer to as "Third World." The story was about hunger in the United States of America, in Florida, in Brevard County. How can that be? We can get sidetracked and make it a political issue but all that will do is overshadow the basic fact that people, our neighbors, especially kids are going hungry in our backyard.
For most of us going "hungry" means our tummy is grumbling but we can solve that little problem whenever we want. For many others, though, especially kids, going hungry means the last regular meal they receive is the free lunch Friday at school until they get a free breakfast at school Monday morning. During those 68 hours, their little tummies may be filled a bit with pretzels or potato chips, or similar non-nutritious items. Or, often, it might be filled only with water.
Corky Calhoun, senior pastor of Georgianna Church on Merritt Island, recently gave a powerful speech at a fundraising luncheon for my charity. Of all the things he implored us to consider regarding hunger in our county was this: "This problem is solvable!" I agree.
But writing about it, speaking about it, and reading about is not enough. If all you did after reading this powerful story about hunger locally was to feel bad, then while you are not the cause of the problem, you are also not part of the solution.
The most powerful part of our charity is the support we have been receiving from congregations of over five dozen Brevard religious organizations and their congregations. The religious community can take the lead to prove Pastor Calhoun correct: This problem is solvable!
If you haven't figured it out by now, the government does not have the answer or the solution. But we do. That is, if we choose to address the disgusting fact that even in good times, let alone what we are experiencing now, people are going hungry in Brevard County.
I call upon every person of faith, every leader of a faith-based congregation, every leader of each local medical group that recognizes the correlating health deficiencies related to hunger, and every president of every major and small corporation in Brevard County to contact FLORIDA TODAY to share your contact information. When enough of us are ready, we will gather at a central location with others who have big hearts and a sense of decency and we will discuss and find the solution to hunger in Brevard County.
If you believe what you hear when you attend your congregation, if you believe in the teachings of your holy book, and if you are at least somewhat appalled that our neighbors and kids are going hungry, then commit to doing something about it.
Please prove Pastor Calhoun correct regarding hunger in Brevard County: This problem is solvable.
Bob Barnes is the founder of The Children's Hunger Project.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Our neighbors and kids are going hungry. We must solve this | Opinion