Thousands of paper plates may be the key to filling up real plates for Denver’s neediest residents.
An unusual awareness campaign being conducted by Hunger Free Colorado asks Denver residents to visit their website, download and sign 10,000 paper plates with their views on the hunger problem in the state.
The signed plates, which might include solutions on ending the hunger problem, personal experiences or even drawings, will be collected and used to create an art installation to bring the issue of hunger in Colorado to the forefront and demonstrate the widespread support for ending the problem which Hunger Free Colorado said affects nearly 1 million people in the state.
“Every plate is a symbol for change,” said Kathy Underhill, Executive Director of Hunger Free Colorado. “Each plate signifies a person who can be part of the solution.”
The “Hungry For Change” campaign kicked off this week with help from the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper and another non –profit organization, Share Our Strength (the three organizations also launched the No Kid Hungry Colorado campaign as well). In addition to the plate drive/art installation, Hunger Free Colorado also plans on taking the issue directly to the people.
“From now until March, we’re taking our campaign to the streets of our cities and towns to engage our community in rallying behind this issue,” said Underhill. “Too often people associate hunger with poverty in developing countries, but it’s right here in our communities. … This public awareness campaign is designed to shine a bright light on this issue to help make necessary changes to how we deal with the issue of hunger in our state.”
The campaign will be taken to schools, grocery stores, places of worship, sporting venues, art galleries and community organizations in urban, suburban and rural communities in Colorado. The effort will employ the services of staffers and volunteers at food banks, healthcare organizations, other non –profits and members of the public sector.
“By leveraging the power of the system, policy and social change, we hope to educate, advocate and mobilize Coloradoans to take an active stance against hunger in our communities and to ensure that no Coloradoan goes hungry,” said Underhill.
According to Hunger Free Colorado, more than 900,000 Colorado residents do not have enough food to meet their nutritional needs, including more than 25 percent of all working families. Merely six years ago, according to a study by Kids Count Colorado, that number of only 5 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that the number of working families in Colorado who receive food stamps has grown by 26 percent in the past two years. The largest segment of the population who suffer from hunger are children between the ages of birth and five years old.
The paper plate drive is just one of the hunger awareness efforts being conducted by Hunger Free Colorado. The organization recently launched a “Hunger Free Hotline” aimed at helping those with hunger issue and problems more easily navigate the food assistance system in the state, as well as make them aware of the many options available such as the Food Assistant Program (also known as SNAP).
Meanwhile, their Sprout Clinic, a joint endeavor with the Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, specializes on the nutrition needs of children up to the age of three. Hunger Free Colorado also assists state schools with arranging breakfast and lunch programs and summer lunch programs.
Paper plates for the campaign can be downloaded at Hunger Free Colorado’s website: http://www.hungerfreecolorado.org.