DULUTH — Even before the effects of COVID-19, hunger in Georgia was a major area of concern.
A 2015 investigation by the Atlanta Journal Constitution chronicled that nearly 2 million Georgians, including 500,000 children, lived in food deserts. Those are low-income communities at least a mile away from a reliable source for fresh produce and other healthy foods. According to the Georgia Food Bank Association, today 66% of Georgia residents are having to choose between paying for food or medical care. Another 40% water down their food and drinks to make them last longer. Due to buying cheaper options, 58% of households have at least one member with high blood pressure and 33% have at least one member with diabetes.
Mission Georgia mobilizer Lorna Bius points to food ministries like those at First Baptist Valdosta, Noonday Baptist Association, and Cross Pointe Church in Duluth as crucial in helping feed others. However, she wants to make sure Georgia Baptists are aware of other such ministries through which they can team up to fight hunger.
“We’re calling it ‘Project: Well Fed’ and wanting to involve as many of our churches as possible during the month of July,” she said. “With one out of every four children in Georgia suffering from hunger on a daily basis, it’s important to work together to support these ministries.”
Georgia Baptist Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond, Jr., likewise encouraged churches to get involved.
“The number of individuals and families who are dealing with food insecurity has risen to a historic rate,” he wrote to pastors in an email today.
“Families who were already under the poverty line have been pushed down further. Others who were eating out regularly at restaurants are now in car lines to pick up boxes of food. Many senior adults are confined to their homes, often without family members who can help pick up and deliver food.
“In the midst of this crisis, we can bring compassionate care to hurting communities.”
Churches already involved, needing more
While the emphasis is for July, the idea is that churches will become aware of local food ministries and help with the needs that exist throughout the year. The food itself is typically given by one of several large food banks throughout the state. Churches provide the manpower in getting it distributed.
“It’s important to not just provide a physical need, but hope with help.”
“I spoke with Second Harvest of South Georgia and they told me about churches who help distribute food. First Baptist Valdosta is a great example of a church doing tremendous work. But there are pockets where they need others to help run a distribution site,” Bius explained.
She pointed out how these are ministries focused on “gospel-centered care.”
“It’s important to not just provide a physical need, but hope with help,” Bius said. “A resource page will be coming soon to MissionGeorgia.org. We’d love for people to let us know what they’re doing or plan to be doing. If they want to share that information on social media just use the #MissionGeorgia hashtag.”