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Be a Sweetheart…Feed the Hungry

Someone special is usually on our minds as Valentine’s Day approaches. In celebration of a relationship, gifts and cards are usually exchanged and oftentimes a wonderful meal is enjoyed. However, there are others to whom even a hot, nutritious meal is a luxury. To help everyone have a meal, Mast General Store is partnering with the Hunger and Health Coalition to raise awareness of hunger in the High Country with its eighth annual Be a Sweetheart…Feed the Hungry event on February 12th and 13th.

Hunger is a major force in the High Country. Since 2008, food distribution by the Hunger and Health Coalition has increased 61%. According to a release from the Food Research and Action Center, 47 states and the District of Columbia had food hardship, meaning that survey respondents could not afford to purchase the food that they or their families needed, 14% of the time during the first half of 2010. There were sixteen states that had 20% or higher food hardship rates. “Over the last couple of years, the need has increased dramatically,” said Compton Fortuna, executive director for the Hunger and Health Coalition.

Fred Martin, vice president of the Mast General Store, commented, “Our Be a Sweetheart…Feed the Hungry event has helped provide food to the food banks serving our local communities at a time when donations are at a lower level. After the holidays, donations tend to wane, and in these challenging economic times, we need to help our neighbors whenever we can.” This year Mast Store will contribute $1 for each pound of candy purchased on February 12th and 13th.

“It is just amazing what these organizations can do with a dollar,” said Martin. “With the help of donations and contributions by restaurants and vendors, spare change can feed a person three hot, healthy meals. Any amount can help.”

Over 2,600 families were served during the last quarter of 2010, totaling 8,000 people. Each family received a food package containing canned items, fresh meat, dairy, frozen items, personal hygiene items, and other non-food items. Those being served can pick up boxes like this twice each month.

Like many non-profit organizations, the Hunger and Health Coalition relies on volunteers and donations for much of its success. There are many opportunities to get involved on a personal or group level as well as learning how you can fight hunger in your community. You can find out more at the organization’s website – www.hungerandhealthcoalition.com.

“We are excited about this partnership,” said Fortuna. “It is a creative way to raise awareness of the Hunger and Health Coalition and the work it does in the community, and it’s always good when you can give a gift to someone you love and have it pay dividends in other ways, too.”

For more information on how you can “Be a Sweetheart,” call the Hunger and Health Coalition at 828-262-1628 or the Mast Store at 828-963-6511 in Valle Crucis or at 828-262-0000 in Boone.

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