By Melinda Semadini
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is partnering with Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, Maryland Governor Martin O. Malley, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, and Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray in declaring September 29, 2012 as a regional Day to Serve focused on feeding the hungry; and they are inviting all faith-based organizations, community groups, civic organizations, and citizens to join them in this unprecedented regional event.
According to a national hunger survey by Hart Research Associates, one in four Americans indicated they are worried about having enough money to put food on the table. Virginia’s 11.8 percent food insecurity rate means that over 912,790 people don’t know where their next meal will come from. More than 218,000 children and teens in Virginia face hunger, and studies have shown that during the summer, children are at an even higher risk for both hunger and obesity because they lose access to regular, nutritious school meals.
Governor McDonnel said, “There’s precious little agreement on too many policy issues in Washington and state capitals, but we can all agree that the fight against hunger is an important one...I thank the LDS Church for bringing together these regional partners to make a real difference on the issue of hunger.”
The LDS Church will donate semi-truckloads of food totaling over $200,000 to food banks recommended by the Governors and the Mayor for this regional Day to Serve and encourages other faith-based organizations to join them and offer similar contributions. In addition, the 150,000 local Church members in 317 congregations in this area will reach out to local pantries to provide further support. These activities will take place in the month of September, which is Hunger Action Month, and will culminate in major food collection efforts on Saturday, September 29, 2012.
The major food organization partners for this event include Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., Maryland Food Bank, the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, and Mountaineer Food Bank and Huntington Area Food Bank in West Virginia.
Oakton Stake President Scott Wheatley said, “We are happy to be part of such a worthwhile project with such great potential to lift up those around us who are suffering. We hope that all citizens of this region will catch the spirit of volunteerism and jump on board with us to make this a momentous event in this region of the country.”
Wheatley said, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists to improve the lives of people across the world by bringing them closer to Jesus Christ. Church resources are used to support that mission, including providing food for the needy and teaching people how to lift themselves up and be self-reliant. Service is one of the things we do well, and we are excited to put out a big effort in September.”
As local projects are organized and identified they will be added to daytoserve.org where anyone who is interested can locate a project in their community and volunteer to help. The official proclamation of September 29, 2012 as a Day to Serve can be found here