Help for those impacted by the Beaver Creek Fires

Originally published in The Weekly Sun 9/4/2013

After weeks of smoke-filled skies, it was almost possible to forget how delightful a blue bird day can be! As the smoke clears and firefighters trickle off to the next blaze, more than just the clear blue sky is returning to our valley—reality is coming back as well. For many of our local families and individuals, the harsh realities of the Beaver Creek Fire may impact them for months to come.

After the Castle Rock Fire in 2007, here at The Hunger Coalition we learned the true impact of such a crisis will be seen long after the smoldering embers have gone cold. The economic loss to our resort community is going to hit hardest those who were already hanging by a thread. For families dependent upon the income from a usually busy August, the impending slack season may cause a new crisis.

Food is one of the most fundamental of human necessities; yet people suffering from economic instability sacrifice balanced meals in order to get the bills paid. When money is tight, those critical nutrients found in fresh fruits and veggies are given up. Parents find themselves skipping a meal so their children have more on their plates. Nutrition and health get bumped to keep a roof over their heads.

At The Hunger Coalition, we don’t think that’s okay. We see a healthy, thriving community arising only when every single member of our community is also healthy and thriving. Statistics released last spring indicate there are over 3,000 “food insecure” children and adults living in Blaine County. By food insecure, we mean they don’t know from where there next meal will come. It is our expectation that more people will find themselves tackling food insecurity as the economic impact of the fire is fully felt in the months to come.

Studies conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion found a disturbing anomaly: people who are the most food insecure are at greater risk for obesity. Food insecure families tend to consume lower cost, prepared foods which are lower in nutritional value instead of more wholesome and expensive options like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The long-term effects of hunger and malnutrition in children include behavioral problems, a decreased ability to learn and perform well in school and an increased frequency of disciplinary issues.

If you find yourself battling hunger and food insecurity in the coming weeks and months, The Hunger Coalition wants you to know there is help. Proper nutrition is key to stress management, mental health and, especially for children, behavioral and developmental well-being. Make sure that you and your family have the foods you need to manage the situation you are in. There are resources in this community to make sure you not only survive this difficult time, but thrive. Our goal is to provide healthy food and a connection to resources in the most respectful manner possible, because maintaining dignity and a sense of self in times of crisis is critical to an individual’s success, and therefore, the community’s. Let us help connect you to the resources you need. Call 788-0121 today for more information.