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It's Hunger Awareness Month, but a Centre County organization says food donations are at an all-time low

YMCA anti hunger volunteers
Mel Curtis
Volunteers for the Centre County YMCA's Anti-Hunger Program organizing groceries for a food distribution. The program has amassed over 300 volunteers.

September is National Hunger Awareness Month, but the anti-hunger program at the Centre County YMCA has seen food donations at an all-time low in recent months.

“It’s not a topic that is in the news constantly, like it was during COVID," said Mel Curtis, director of the anti-hunger program. "I think a lot of people really don’t understand hunger, they don’t know the true meaning behind it, and how fast someone can fall into a situation where they’re going to face food insecurity.”

Curtis said the YMCA is hosting a variety of events to raise awareness about food insecurity in the community and to encourage donations. He said that although it might look like things are better with COVID letting up, increased food costs are hitting people hard.

“Right now we are seeing more people now than we did at the height of COVID. Predominantly it’s due to inflation, due to what COVID did with a lot of employment. We’re seeing the moms and pops that are working, struggling to stay ahead. It is bad, it’s a lot worse than people realize," Curtis said.

The YMCA is raising funds by selling orange lightbulbs, the color for hunger awareness. Proceeds from the sale will go towards the center’s backpack program, which provides backpacks of food for students to have on the weekends.

You can purchase a lightbulb at any Centre County YMCA branch.

Casey Zanowic is a WPSU radio news intern for fall 2022.
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