As we continue our efforts to educate others about food insecurity, local Boston professional chefs will put their skills to the test during our second annual "Hunger Chopped" event supporting Catholic Charities' Friends Feeding Families Program.
Recently, Pew Research released their data about the shrinking middle class in Massachusetts. Pew, that defines middle-income households as those having three people and an annual income between about $42,000 to $125,000, adjusted for the cost of living in a metro area and the number of household members.
The Pew analysis of available data reveals that between 2000 and 2014, "the share of adults in the upper-income tier increased from 17 percent to 20 percent, and the share of adults in the lower-income tier increased from 28 percent to 29 percent."
For families slipping into poverty, we know that food insecurity -- the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food -- is a huge worry. Across the country in 2013, nearly 17.5 million American households experienced food insecurity. That's 49.1 million people, or one in six people living in the United States.
Sadly, one in five children in eastern Massachusetts faces hunger on a daily basis, as do many seniors living on fixed incomes. It seems that too many of our friends and neighbors live in households that struggle with hunger at some time during the year. Over the past few years, we have noted an alarmingly high demand at our food pantries during the summer months -- when families are struggling to make ends meet without the benefit of school lunches and other supplemental programs. Demand skyrockets in August as summer camp programs end and the school year has not yet begun.
Our Friends Feeding Families program, which we began at the height of the recession, continues today to engage the community and raise awareness about hunger. This community-gathering initiative helps meet the needs of those living in or slipping into poverty in our neighborhoods; and the brown bag is our call to action. It encourages our supporters -- old and new -- to be brown bag sponsors, host brown bag parties, buy grocery gift cards, fill bags with groceries, or make cash gifts in support of our efforts.
As we continue our efforts to educate others about food insecurity, local Boston professional chefs will put their skills to the test during our second annual "Hunger Chopped" event supporting Catholic Charities' Friends Feeding Families Program. Similar to the Food Network Program "Chopped," the chefs will be challenged to use only a mystery box of ingredients typically found in a Catholic Charities food pantry and a selection of produce from the vendors at The Boston Public Market. Chefs will be tasked to choose their pantry ingredients in 15 minutes and then will have just 30 minutes to prepare and plate a dish for the judges.
We are delighted that CHOPPS American Bar and Grill Executive Chef Jeff Williams and The Palm Executive Chef Karen Mitchell have agreed to contribute their time and talent for Hunger Chopped on Wednesday, May 25 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. as they prepare a meal that will then be judged for its taste, appeal and quality by a panel of community judges. The recipe of the winning meal will be added to the food and other basic needs resources we make available to our families.
At Catholic Charities, we know all too well that too many of our neighbors do not have the resources necessary to feed their families healthy and nutritious meals. It is our hope that our Friends Feeding Families Program helps insure that the food we distribute is as healthy and plentiful as possible. To learn more about how you can help end hunger in your community, visit FriendsFeedingFamilies.org and to reserve your seat for Hunger Chopped, visit ccab.org.
Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.