Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

Macon County Care Network served 5,994 households in 2017, with 7,835 lunches through the soup cafe and 17,911 weekend food backpacks distributed to children in the community. With at least one in eight people in Macon County living at or below the Federal Poverty Level, the services and needs of CareNet continue to grow, as does their need of support.

Youth in Macon County will be participating in the annual 30 Hour Famine at the end of the month, a tradition that has occurred locally for 23 years to raise awareness and donations for hunger needs locally and around the world.

“This event helps raise awareness of the issues related to hunger and poverty both locally in Macon County and around the world; it also provides an opportunity for children, teens and adults to come together to help address hunger, and helps young people especially see how they can make a difference,” said Margaret Freeman, Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church, who spearheads the event each year.

Freeman said they are expecting around 75 6-12 graders participate in the 30 Hour Famine, which will have the youth and volunteers fasting for the weekend as they raise donations to help end hunger.

“What I like about the 30 Hour Famine is that you get to step out of your comfort zone and connect with different people in the community,” said Helen Martin, 13. “You don’t think that you can survive for 30 hours with just juice and gum, but when you’re learning and having fun with your friends it’s really not that bad. When you don’t eat you understand on a much smaller scale what others go through every day.”

Worldwide, one in every nine people do not have enough to eat and 31 children die of starvation every hour. The 30 Hour Famine event will not only collect donations for CareNet to address hunger security locally, but will also be part of a wider goal of raising money for World Vision, which works to end hunger around the globe.

“We are hoping to beat last year’s collection of 4,338 cans for CareNet and $8,175 for hunger ($5,218 for CareNet and $2,957 to World Vision),” said Freeman.

While youth and volunteers will be going without food for 30 hours, they will be volunteering to serve the community a hot meal.

“This year we are adding a free lunch for anyone in the community on that Saturday, Feb. 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the lot on the corner of W. Palmer and Patton Streets,” said Freeman. “It will be a hot meal on a cold day! All are invited to come – whether you are hungry or if you’d like to learn more about how you can make a difference in addressing hunger in Macon County.”

While the 30 Hour Famine event isn’t scheduled to take place until Feb. 23, donations may be dropped off now at any participating locations including:  First United Methodist Church, Countryside Chevrolet, TekTone, Nantahala Physical Therapy, Fox Mercantile, Jones, Key, Melvin & Patton, P.A., Inabinet Counseling Services. Also, several schools are holding a Cans for CareNet food drive as a part of the 30 Hour Famine.

“I want to take part in the 30 Hour Famine because I can be a part of a church group and learn about God while being in a fun environment with my friends,” said Savannah Mira-Knippel, 13.

On that Saturday, Feb. 24 the youth will be collecting cans of food and donations from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Bi-Lo, the Town gazebo, and the empty lots at the corner of W. Palmer and Patton Streets, or donations can be dropped off all day on Feb. 23 and 24 at First United Methodist Church, 66 Harrison Ave.