Galesburg has been in second place in Reader’s Digest’s “We Hear You America” contest for the past few weeks. The first-place prize for this contest is $40,000 awarded to the town with the most votes entered on their website, wehearyouamerica.readersdigest.com.
There has been some discussion in the community about what Galesburg might use this money for if it happens to win $40,000, or even the second-place prize of $25,000. Some people, such as state Rep. Don Moffitt, as quoted in an article in the Galesburg Register-Mail, have suggested improving the Railroad Hall of Fame, or focusing on improving Galesburg’s tourism industry in general. Another column in the Register-Mail proposed the idea of a shuttle from Galesburg to Peoria to help residents save on gas.
But something seems to be missing from all of these ideas. After all that went on this past year in regards to the Galesburg Hunger Action Group, and after seeing how many young Galesburg students potentially are without food security in their day-to-day lives, why don’t we focus on solving this problem?
Eradicating hunger in our local community should come before promoting tourism. If you have ever driven around town and seen the fairly well-known bumper sticker that reads, “Galesburg: A great place to starve,” that should help convince you that there is a problem when it comes to making sure people in this town get fed.
There are a number of ways to use $40,000 to ensure that hunger becomes less of a problem in Galesburg. One of these ways would be to open a free soup kitchen in one of several abandoned buildings around town. What about the several stores that have been out of business on Henderson St. for years? Or the building that sits near the intersection of South St., Monmouth Blvd. and Academy St.? These places have become dilapidated and run down probably for several reasons, but surely, in some way, it is connected to a lack of funding. If Galesburg wins the “We Hear You America” contest, we can not only utilize the space we have let go to waste in town, but we can start a constant food kitchen or pantry, something that Galesburg does not currently have.
While the Galesburg Hunger Action group and Knox Area Community Project did a lot to ensure Galesburg students would have lunch when their schools closed for two weeks this winter, shouldn’t it make us wonder about who else in Galesburg is still hungry? The Galesburg Hunger Action group even hosts free community dinners regularly, but we need something more constant, more permanent, a place where people who need food can get it for free any day. If Galesburg wins any money through this Reader’s Digest contest, we encourage everyone to think of the possibilities of reducing hunger in Galesburg with that prize money.