Hunger in Pensacola

At the recent neighborhood rally hosted by Greater Little Rock Baptist Church, Rev. Joe Marshall, the pastor of St. John Divine Baptist Church, talked about growing up in Morris Court and attending school at O.J. Semmes. Pastor Marshall talked how much he looked forward to going to school because that was where he was feed. The lunch ladies would slip him an extra biscuit or sausage. The school cafeteria was his lifeline.

Thirty years later, hunger still plagues Escambia County. Teachers tell me how they buy breakfast bars and other snacks to feed their students. Kids volunteer at the rec centers and city park concessions so they might get hamburger or hot dog. Coaches are buying their players snacks.

Hunger in Pensacola is real. Some children rarely get to eat until they’re full. Escambia County has one out of every four children living in poverty––17,470 children, 28.1 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says sustainable development cannot be realized unless hunger and malnutrition are eliminated. In a report released Wednesday, FAO chief Jose Graziano da Silva said development cannot be called sustainable while nearly one out of every seven people in the world suffers from malnourishment.

Well, what does this say for a community that has a quarter of its children living in poverty? How can we have sustainable development with 25-percent of our base suffering?