Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Hunger is an individual and personal feeling. When one person says he is hungry, you know what he needs, but you really don’t know how he feels. Is he hungry because he’s bored? Is he hungry because he was too rushed to eat his usual breakfast this morning and had to settle for a granola bar instead? Or is he hungry because he doesn’t have enough money to buy enough food for three meals every day and must make do with missing 14 meals a month?
Being hungry is subjective, but measuring hunger relief is quantifiable. It comes down to closing the gaps, providing those meals that are missing from almost 600,000 hungry Minnesotans’ lives. To gauge success, hunger-relief organizations have created a standard measurement for hunger relief and it is the meal. What constitutes a meal? The formula that was created by the USDA is that one meal equals 1.2 pounds of food.
You can see how easy this is to understand. One of Hunger-Free Minnesota’s targets is to increase the number of meals provided by the emergency food network by 50 million meals. Once, that might have seemed like a vague concept; now we know it means we need to find sources for an additional 60 million pounds of food. Although that sounds like an impossibly large number, research we have conducted tells us the food is there.
With the coordination of Hunger-Free Minnesota’s Community Partners, comprising food banks, food shelves and meal programs all over the state, the increase in pounds of food that are distributed to hungry Minnesotans will be calculated and used to track the closing of the missing meals gap. Not only will we measure hunger relief, but hopefully, we no longer will need to measure hunger, either.