Hunger was a problem before the pandemic started.
Food is one of those bills that can be squeezed and cut. The euphemism we use to talk about cut – tightening your belt – recognizes that the corners cut when money is tight are often meals.
It was therefore no surprise when Covid-19 and the resulting restrictions only made things worse. Food banks were suddenly on the forefront as businesses closed and jobs were on leave. A mile-long line of cars for a Greater Pittsburgh Community food bank drew national attention in March 2020 and became a symbol of the effects of the coronavirus.
Now, 18 months later, the lines may not be that long, but there are still many people in need – and far too many of them are children.
There are approximately 96,000 children in the 11 counties served by the Tafel who do not have the food they need. For some, that means they don’t have enough. For others, it means they don’t have the things that make a healthy diet. Ramen noodles are cheap and available, while fresh vegetables can be more difficult to access in some areas.
It is a void that is constantly crying out to be filled. The most recent attempt to do this begins on January 1st.
The Sports and Media Coalition is a partnership of local media and sports organizations – professionals through high school and everything in between. Trib Total Media is one of the partners. The first goal is to bring healthy food to the table of hungry children.
It’s a perfect marriage. Sports teams like the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins don’t just live and play in their host cities. You are also dependent on the media. That has made media collaborators with sports organizations right from the start. The coalition will use its strengths to raise awareness of food insecurity, increase child nutrition and exercise opportunities, and work with local leaders to develop strategies to resolve the issues.
The sports groups understand food as fuel and the value of a strong, healthy body. The media organizations know how to get a message across. When they work together, they can make a real difference.