By Hannah Neumann
In honor of World Food Day, the McLennan County Hunger Coalition is asking people to buy lunch for a stranger today.
The coalition has invited the public to participate in Lunch for Friends, a united effort to end hunger in McLennan County.
Esther Morales, a member of the coalition’s board, said the group, along with the McLennan County Public Health District, is supporting efforts to specifically address senior hunger in the community.
“We used to do an event called Fast of Caring, which was more of a religious aspect where you would fast your lunch and whatever you would normally spend on lunch that day, you would donate to the McLennan County Hunger Coalition,” Morales said. “And then we would use those donations to support other endeavors in the county that deal with hunger.”
Morales said that they’ve decided to turn it from a religious event into a fundraising event for the whole community to take part in, which resulted in Lunch for Friends. “Lunch for Friends is going to support what we feel is a major issue in our community, which is senior hunger,” Morales said. “This year our endeavor is to open it up to the broader community.”
According to their website, the coalition collaborates with local pantries, businesses, congregations, food producers and individuals to provide food security.
“The proceeds will go half to Meals on Wheels to support the senior feeding program for homebound seniors,” Morales said. “Half will go back into McLennan County for whatever other endeavors we feel need advocacy or assistance that are worthy for us to sponsor.”
Tammy Woods, director of Waco’s Meals on Wheels, which is the senior-focused portion of Lunch for Friends campaign, said they are involved with the coalition and attend the monthly meetings.
According to Meals on Wheels’ website, 9.3 million Americans over the age of 60 face the threat of hunger, or roughly 1 in 6. 2.5 million seniors receive meals through Meals on Wheels.
“This year for the fundraiser, the McLennan County Hunger Coalition wanted to partner with a charity that is involved with feeding people,” Woods said. “And they selected Meals on Wheels to be the recipient of part of the proceeds.”
Woods said that all the money will stay local and the money donated will go directly toward feeding people in need. Morales said it has been a blessing for her to see the way they community has poured its heart into giving in past events like this.
“Fall is my favorite season because it really seems to change people’s attitudes towards giving,” Morales said. “Even though we’re supposed to have that attitude all year long, I feel that fall really has a tendency to change people’s hearts and we just see such an outpour from people who want to give back at this time of year.”
Information about Lunch for Friends can be found at http://www.mclennanhunger.org.