Hunger was a problem before the start of the pandemic.
Food is one of those bills that can be cut and cut. The very euphemism we use to talk about reduction – tightening our belts – recognizes that the corners that are cut when money is short are often meals.
So it was no surprise that covid-19 and the resulting restrictions only made matters worse. Food banks were suddenly at the forefront of needs as businesses closed and jobs were cut. A mile-long line of cars for a Greater Pittsburgh community food bank gained national attention in March 2020, becoming a symbol of the impact of the coronavirus.
Now, 18 months later, the lines might not be that long, but there are still plenty of people in need – and far too many of those people are children.
There are approximately 96,000 children in the 11 counties served by the food bank who do not have the food they need. For some, that means they don’t have enough. For others, it means they don’t have the things that make for healthy eating. Ramen noodles are inexpensive and available, while fresh vegetables can be more difficult to access in some areas.
It is a void that perpetually cries out to be filled. The most recent effort to do so will begin on January 1.
The Sports and Media Coalition is a partnership of local media and sports organizations – from professionals to high school and everything in between. Trib Total Media is one of the partners. The first goal is to put healthy food on the tables of hungry children.
It’s a perfect marriage. Sports teams like the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins don’t just live and play in their halls. They also rely on the media. This has made the media collaborators of sports organizations from the start. The coalition will build on its strengths to promote food insecurity awareness, help strengthen child nutrition and exercise opportunities, and work with local leaders to develop policies to address the issues.
Sports groups understand food as fuel and the value of a strong, healthy body. Media organizations know how to get a message across. By working together, they just might make a real difference.