Council Formed to End Hunger in Livingston County
On October 29, 2009, a broad cross-section of community leaders came together to start discussions about how to end hunger in Livingston County. The Livingston County Hunger Council, as this group has come to be called, will be led by local business owner, Jerry Olinik, of Olinik Family McDonalds. The Council is inviting the community to join the fight against hunger by getting involved with one or more sub-committees being formed around some early strategies. According to several members, “If there is one place in Michigan that can eliminate hunger, we think it is Livingston County! “ All four committees will hold their first meetings this month.
The need for a local plan to address hunger became apparent with the release of the Michigan Blueprint to End Hunger, published in 2007 by the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The report detailed a 51% gap in Livingston County between food needed and food provided. “The simple truth is, many of our neighbors and friends are only eating half of the meals they need,” said Michelle Ounanian, Program Director of Gleaners Community Food Bank and a member of the Council. “Hunger poses serious risks to health; affects work performance; and interferes with our children’s ability to learn.”
All across the county, people are faced with tough choices when trying to find enough food to eat. Food often has to take a back seat to other priorities like rent, utilities, and transportation. Parents may eat less so their children can have enough, or they may feel forced to purchase less expensive food that stretches further, but offers less nutrition.
When asked how the Livingston County Hunger Council plans to address this issue, council chair Jerry Olinik said, “The plan laid out in the Blueprint to End Hunger provides us with a framework to bring the community together and find solutions that can end hunger in Livingston County. Our greatest strength as a council is the diversity of members who have come from a cross-section of the community, including non-profit and business leaders.”
The first committees will meet at the following times, in the Livingston County United Way conference room. Meetings could last up to a couple of hours. Future schedules will be determined by the members of each committee. To register for a committee meeting or for more information, call Michelle Ounanian at 313.923.3535 ext. 335.
- Access to Fresh Produce/Community Garden Initiatives – 10:00 a.m. December 8, 2009
- Utilization of Food Stamp Program – 1:00 p.m. December 10, 2009
- Nutrition Education Programming– 2:30 p.m. December 14, 2009
- Expand Services and Coordination of Food Pantry Network – 2:00 p.m. December 16, 2009
Financial donations to support the council’s work to eliminate hunger in Livingston County can be sent to Livingston County Basic Needs Workgroup, with a designation to “Hunger Council”, c/o Livingston County United Way, 2980 Dorr Rd., Brighton, MI 48116.
For anyone in need of food assistance, call 2-1-1 for referrals to local food programs and pantries. To apply for government food assistance on-line, visit www.michigan.gov/mibridges.