Hunger everywhere you look
September 14, 2012 3:06PM
Craig Nemitz, director of field services at Global FoodBanking Network, took this photo at an orphanage in Calcutta, India. | submitted photo
Updated: October 18, 2012 6:07AM
Almost one billion people around the world do not have enough food to eat; 60 percent of them are women. In developed countries, like America, 19 million people go to bed hungry on a regular basis.
Craig Nemitz, director of field services at Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) in Chicago and also a Rotarian in the Channahon-Minooka club, has been working to help feed the hungry for 20 years.
One of his jobs is to get food banks and food manufacturers together to carry out the mission of getting the world’s overabundance of food to those who need it.
Craig explained it to me in terms I could easily visualize. If the hungry people of the world were the size of a racquetball, our food supply is the size of a dodge ball (my description, he showed me with his hands).
“We have a surplus, but people still go to bed hungry,” he said.
One of the difficulties is in getting the food to where it’s needed and storing it in a safe manner. Another one is getting cooperation between governments, food suppliers, organizations and the people in need, which isn’t always easy.
Nemitz worked about 13 years in the U.S. and has branched out to other countries. When he’s not orchestrating matches between big companies like Kellogg’s and Walmart with food banks or shelters in places like India and Africa, he travels to those areas to provide hands-on help, especially when disasters strike.
“I’m there to lend a hand, whether it’s coordinating a meeting or loading a truck,” he said.
Rotary International has partnered with GFN to feed the hungry worldwide, and, as a Rotarian, Nemitz is doing the same thing here in Channahon and Minooka with the club’s backpack program.
Every Friday students in Channahon and Minooka school districts take home a package of snacks and easily prepared food for the weekend. It assures that these kids, many whose parents or caregivers are at work, will have something to eat when not in school.
If you think your own community doesn’t have many people who go hungry, just look around, said Nemitz. It’s here, but it’s silent.
In a story I covered last year, 120 area families received food and household supplies from a Northern Illinois Food Bank truck, arranged through Channahon Township. There have been several more in our area since.
When Chanooka Wish held its first back-to-school supplies drive and pickup this year, it had requests to serve 340 kids from Channahon and Minooka. They were able to help about half of the kids.
And they were just one of the organizations who held school supply programs this fall.
In South Africa, some affluent school students bring two lunches every day. One is for themselves and the others are picked up and taken to students in poor school districts.
“It’s wonderful,” said Nemitz. “It’s something small that costs pennies.”
During October, many communities hold Crop Walks, communitywide events to raise funds to end hunger, both right here and around the world. The Crop Walk in the Channooka area is scheduled for Oct. 7, starting at Resurrection Church on Route 6 in Channahon. Registration is at 1 p.m.
It’s something small that almost anyone can do. And the returns are huge.
Nemitz recalled being at a shelter in Calcutta, India, for women ostracized by their families just for being female. The women actually cried with gratitude because they were getting a meal that night, even though the next day was another matter.
“It scared me that they could be that grateful,” Nemitz said. “There’s too much abundance for anyone to be that grateful for a meal.”
Reach Kris Stadalsky at email@example.com.