LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Dec. 20, 2011) - When Americans think of hunger, they often think of swollen bellies and jutting ribs in countries far away. But Heifer International knows that malnutrition is often right next door. That's why Heifer, the global nonprofit known for gifts of livestock and training, is starting a bold new initiative right here in the United States.
Heifer International's United States program's Seeds of Change will focus on two of the most severely impoverished areas in the U.S.: the Arkansas Delta and Appalachia. Seeds of Change aims to make healthy foods more accessible to those who need them most. This is about more than just raising incomes; it's about combatting real hunger and malnutrition. In much of America, the large-scale farming of cash crops has undermined local food systems that can provide a variety of healthy foods. Bolstering agriculture in the U.S. may seem like a shift toward the past rather than the future, but with one in six people in America now living in poverty, hunger is a pressing issue. Nutritious food can be hard to obtain even in areas with fertile land.
In the Appalachian region, specifically in North Carolina and Tennessee, almost one in five people go hungry at least part of the time. In the targeted Arkansas Delta area, nearly one in four people are food insecure.
The Heifer USA country program awarded two planning grants of $125,000 each to the East Arkansas Enterprise Community and to the Appalachia District Health Department and through the program, Heifer will supply agricultural materials, equipment and training in sustainable business development, agriculture production and distribution processes to participants, and help them access capital and credit to develop local food systems once again.
Heifer International has an excellent reputation for working against hunger and poverty in ways that strengthen local communities over the long term. Heifer empowers individuals and teaches skills and values that can be used for a lifetime. With its requirement that successful participants Pass on the Gift to another needy family, Heifer encourages communities to take responsibility for each other.
With Seeds of Change, Heifer USA aims to expand its presence in America and make a significant impact on hunger in this country and will enable families to improve their livelihoods in ways they never thought possible.
(Source: Heifer International)