Most Americans who know at least the basics of both history and geography are aware that Montgomery is not only the state capital of Alabama but also both the final destination of the historic “Selma-to-Montgomery Marches” and the site of Dr. King’s famous “How Long, Not Long” speech. But probably few – even of those living across Alabama itself – are aware that just an hour’s drive to the southwest of the capital is a small, rural county called Wilcox, where many residents go hungry because they cannot afford the food they need. Hunger has been an urgent issue in Alabama and elsewhere for decades. How long will it take to finally solvegenerational hunger as well as the newer, mostly undocumented hunger among the many households that struggle to regularly eat nutritious meals? In theory, not long, provided local officials and organizations possess two things: reliable, pinpointed data and the willpower to fix a broken system. With these in hand, regular, nutritious meals could be provided in ways that generate the momentum to attract new resources and to use existing ones more strategically and efficiently. This critical information is now publicly available for Wilcox County for hyper local areas.
Accounting for all food subsidies, food bank support, and help from friends and family, Wilcox County residents miss a total of 686,000 (rounded) meals per year because they cannot afford them. This is a serious quality of life and quality of health problem. If the state of Alabama set the goal of everyone obtaining 3 meals per day, and if all residents of Wilcox shared the meal loss equally at one time without interruption, it would mean that no one in the County would eat a single meal for 3 straight weeks. Hunger is solvable, and we are hopeful that local, statewide, and national leaders will use the data and tools in this report to take meaningful and focused action.
This SOLVE HUNGER report and map compendium are part of a special research project for Gray Television InvestigateTV.
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