Open forum to look at local hunger issues
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Thu., Mar. 3, 2011
The Vernon Community Network (VCN) will be holding the second in its ongoing series of forums on important issues on March 14.
Food security is the issue of the meeting, and anyone in the community is welcome to attend.
Alan Slobidien, director of Vernon Youth and Family Services, said the concept started when the VCN decided to do the forums on pertinent issues, and was provided with data on food programs in the area that are available, but underutilized.
“The goal is really to get an awareness to individuals or families in the area who need assistance with food,” he said.
One of the things that will be discussed is whether grocery stores are easily accessible to those in need.
“For those of us who don't struggle with transportation to a supermarket,” he said, “it doesn't seem like a big deal. For someone who has that struggle, are the supermarkets located in convenient places? I think we're fortunate in this community, that our supermarkets are on the bus line, and close to Rockville, but in other communities, you'd have to travel a great distance.”
Slobodien said another hope of the forum is to create a dialogue in Vernon about hunger issues, and create a greater awareness of the intricacies of the problem.
The first forum, on homelessness, resulted in a task force to take aim at homelessness in the area.
The Food Security forum will begin with a presentation on what that term means. The open discussion will follow.
Slobodien said that, like the homelessness forum, he expects people to attend who have been affected by food insecurity, or who are advocates for people in need of food, as well as people who are interested in taking action.
“I think we are going to get a broad group of people who are interested in hearing about the issues,” Slobodien said. “It's always pretty enlightening to find out that there are [young] people who show up to school, and weren't able to tap into the school breakfast and lunch program, that it would be a great struggle for them to make it through the day..”
He added that topics will also include school lunches, seniors' access to food, and the state of local food pantries, among others.
Slobodien said a recent presentation from local service providers to the VCN on teen dating issues may result in a topic for another forum.
The forum on Food Security will take place Monday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. At the Rockville Church of the Nazarene, 47 East St. in Rockville.
For more information, visit www.1vernon.org, or call 860-870-3557.