Monday, November 7, 2011

Food bank off the beaten path

I'm a born and bred resident of Lehigh County, for better or worse.  A fair chunk of my readership hails from the same place.  So occasionally, I like to talk about something that's relevant to the area.

In the case of today's post, though, I hope the interest transcends our region. 

Being hungry is something that many people experience, of course. estimates that there are around 925 million people in the world who are undernourished, many of them children.  Considering that the world population just exceeded 7 billion in the past week, that's roughly one out of every seven people who aren't getting enough to eat.

Now, here in the United States, there are many Native American communities who are among those in need of food.  According to the American Psychological Assocation, Native Americans make up almost a full one-fourth of American citizens living in poverty.  Vaguely relatedly, November is Native American Heritage Month, which makes this an ideal time to bring the matter to public attention.

My home county has a rich history regarding Native Americans.  Our very name is of Native American origin, in fact; the county is named after the Lehigh River, which runs through it.  The word Lehigh is taken from the Native word Lechauwekink, which means "where there are forks."  Several Native trails forked around this area.

Our Native heritage is best preserved by a small museum in the city of Allentown, the Museum of Indian Culture.  Founded by a woman whose parents were both of Lenni Lenape ancestry (you might know them better as the Delaware), this is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about the area's Native history.

Where the two things - Native Americans and fighting hunger - collide is in the museum's own food bank, the Three Sisters Harvest.  For more than five years, this food bank has been distributing food items to area Native American families who desperately need them.  Like many food banks, they're feeling the pinch of the economic downturns we've all been suffering.

I'll be honest:  I did not know this food bank even existed, which makes me feel like I don't pay close enough attention to what goes on around me.  I knew the museum existed, because I visited it as a child on a school trip, but while doing research on my latest post for the Allentown Genealogy Examiner, I stumbled across their website and started looking at what they have to offer. 

And I thought, if I've lived here all my life and I didn't know they provide this food bank, how many other people don't know about it either?  So I'm telling my readers about it today.

If you live here in Lehigh County, or near enough that you can visit, you can support the food bank by dropping off items on their list of requests.  These can be delivered to the museum during their normal hours of operation or during any of their special events.  If you live farther away, or don't have time to shop/make a delivery, click on that link to get the mailing address in order to send either a financial donation or a gift card that will enable them to purchase fresh items for the families they help.

Thanksgiving is coming.  Let's share the bounty.

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