Hunger Action Month is a nationwide initiative started by Feeding America, the nation’s largest anti-hunger charity, of which the FVFB is a Partner State Association. The goal of this series of events is to not only spread awareness of hunger issues, but also motivate individuals to take action to help solve these issues. Across the nation, food banks and partner state associations hold events and create targeted outreach to make a different in their communities. There are several key events which the FVFB actively coordinates during Hunger Action Month: “Step by Step – Together We Can Solve Hunger” Campaign Amos Desjardins, a well-known marathon runner from Northern Virginia, will embark on a 500-mile journey through Virginia starting August 30th in support of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. His goal is to raise food, money and awareness to fight hunger while bringing attention to the challenges faced by Virginia as shown in results of the first Virginia Food Desert study released in January 2014. His itinerary includes stops at food banks and running stores where he will bring attention to the issues of food-insecurity in Virginia. This event is garnering interest from elected officials in the areas he is running through, specifically areas where hunger and food access are a concern. Amos and Federation representatives will be present when he concludes his 500-mile course at the State Capital on September 4th, where we hope that our Governor will be greeting him upon his arrival. This entire project is being coordinated with the Federation of Virginia Food Banks and is the first event of its kind to take place with the FVFB. Turning Orange Mobilizing a community to take action requires a well-coordinated campaign to bring attention to the target problem. “Turning Orange” is a kick-off event focused on getting the word out about Hunger Action Month and the official color of hunger – orange. The FVFB and members engage Virginia businesses, government agencies, and individuals to wear or display the color orange on September 4th and to continue for the month. This is a simple way to show solidarity and call attention to the month’s events. Past accomplishments have included displaying orange ribbons and lighting of the Executive Mansion in Richmond. Elected Official Volunteer Day Many Virginians, including elected officials, do not know how hunger affects their community or how food banks play a role in assisting through emergency food. Numbers and statistics about hunger, however grim, may not make an impression on an elected official inundated with data every day. Bringing those numbers to life by engaging elected officials in the day-to-day operations of their local food bank is the focus of Elected Officials Volunteer Day (September 4). Now in its fourth year, this event invites elected officials to sort cans, fill backpacks, or any number of other tasks for a few hours at their local food bank. This hands-on activity allows them to see how efficient their food bank operates, as well as see first-hand how it impacts the community. They learn how hunger affects their constituents as well as what services the food bank is providing. This critical experience puts a face on hunger, and leaves a lasting impression on the elected official. For example, one past participant learned that his district was served by his food bank’s diabetes-focused mobile pantry, and now he and his wife volunteer with that pantry regularly. This kind of personal experience can lead to more informed decision-making. Virginia Day To Serve Community mobilization towards a shared goal enables a group to come together in service, reinforcing the bonds that lead to long-lasting change. “Day to Serve” is an interfaith initiative to motivate groups to choose a local anti-hunger charity (food bank or partner agency) and volunteer for a day. In two neighboring states and the District of Columbia, volunteer events will take place between September 11 to September 28. Volunteer groups enter their events on the “Day to Serve” website, where an interactive map shows all the projects going on around the state. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and his wife have committed to supporting this event, while official proclamations across the Commonwealth have been presented to recognize the significance of “Day to Serve.” Last year, over 1300 service events took place, involving more than 45,000 volunteers. AARP Community Food Drive September is brimming with additional events to mobilize the public to take action and help solve hunger during Hunger Action Montha. Several statewide food drives with national partners take place, including the “Virginia Community Food Drive” with the Virginia AARP Office from September 8 – 15. We hope you can participate in a few of these events, and don’t forget to wear orange on September 4th!