Hall urges renewed generosity to stamp out hunger

Former congressman asks for generous giving this holiday season

Tony Hall, Dayton’s former congressman, said Thursday he still intends to open a local office dedicated to fighting hunger — in perhaps as soon as two weeks — and urged residents to be more generous than ever in supporting local relief campaigns.

“These are not handouts,” said Hall, who long has made fighting hunger a hallmark of his career. “Most of these people who are hungry are working women, and children and senior citizens.

The announcement was made at Montgomery County Food Summit at Top of the Market banquet hall, a gathering of citizens and officials focused on the depth of hunger in the Dayton area.

In particular, Hall asked residents to generously support a trio of local campaigns — Valley Food Relief, Food for Friends and Holiday Aid.

Last year, through a partnership of the Dayton Daily News and The Foodbank, the Valley Food Relief campaign raised $198,085.95 to help The Foodbank buy nutritious wholesale food supplies for hungry families in Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties. The Foodbank serves and distributes food to 88 other nonprofits in the Miami Valley.

This year’s Valley Food relief campaign kicks off with a donation envelope included in the Nov. 15 edition of the Dayton Daily News. The campaign runs until Jan. 10, 2016.

Hall encouraged the approximately 225 people attending the food summit to ask friends, neighbors and relatives to give to those campaigns. He particularly encouraged listeners to find people who have never given before.

“We can do this without a lot of money,” Hall said. “But we need to work together.”

After the holiday campaigns, Hall urged the formation of fill in what he called “the gaps” left by existing hunger-fighting efforts. “We need to look at a bigger plan — a much bigger plan,” he said.

In September, Hall returned to Dayton to say that he intended to personally lead a fight against hunger here.

The retired U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture had been inspired in part by this newspaper’s coverage of the issue and a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, “Household Food Security in the United States in 2014.”

He also latched on to research that found Dayton was the “fourth hungriest” city in America. The report found that 27.6 percent of Dayton households experienced “food hardship,” where families are forced to skip meals or eat less because of limited resources.

“We need more collaboration between all of us,” Hall said in September. “We need everybody involved. This issue belongs not just to food banks … this belongs to corporations. This belongs to everyone.”

Hall, 73, served in the House from 1979 to 2002. After he left Congress, he was as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture until 2006.

Dr. Donald Nguyen, a pediatric specialist who has practiced in Dayton for some 25 years, attended the summit as an interested citizen, not a speaker. He said tobacco use is regarded as the No. 1 killer in the United States.

But for homes with children, Nguyen added, “Guess what the No. 2 killer is: food insecurity and food shortages.”

Local leaders have struggled to address a lack of easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in poor and working class Dayton neighborhoods to the north and west in Montgomery County.

“We have to address these food insecurities,” Nguyen said.

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