Opinion

Reasons to give thanks

America remains, in many ways, the land of plenty. One obvious example is the Thanksgiving feast that millions will enjoy today.

While the cost of a gallon of gas may be going through the roof, the traditional Thank-sgiving meal of turkey, dressing and myriad side dishes remains easily affordable for most. While the cost of the turkey day feast is up about 11 percent from last year, according to the American Farm Bureau, it still ranks as a bargain.

Higher gas prices are one reason for the increase. It costs more to transport all those turkeys from farm to market. The cost of dairy products also has increased, making the whipped cream on top of the pumpkin pie a bit more of a luxury.

Nonetheless, the Farm Bureau estimates that the average Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost $42.26. Per person, the price is little more than $4, which is less than most meals at a fast-food restaurant.

But even a bargain meal can be beyond the reach of some. The number of families served by South Carolina food banks and soup kitchens has jumped dramatically this year.

Using Census Bureau data, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual hunger survey found 14.7 percent of S.C. families said they did not have enough money or resources to get food for at least some period during the year. The S.C. rate was up 3.7 percentage points over a decade ago, bucking a national trend that has seen hunger rates level out since 1996.

That puts South Carolina among the nation's top five states where people aren't getting enough to eat. A state survey also indicated that more than 6,700 South Carolinians are homeless.

Nationwide, 35.5 million people, or 12.1 percent, suffered "food insecurity" during the year. Even in a land of plenty, some fall through the cracks.

The plight of those less fortunate, those who, for one reason or another, won't be with family and friends enjoying the feast on this most American of holidays, accentuates the good fortune of those who will sit at a table groaning with food. If we need a reason to give thanks, consider those who won't be watching the Thanksgiving Day parade or an afternoon football game, those who won't be taking a walk down a tree-lined street to work off the calories from a second piece of pie.

Think of those people, and think of a way to share some of your good fortune with them. Remember that hunger remains a problem for thousands year-round, not just during the holiday season.

Here are some of the places in this area that help the hungry:

• Pilgrims' Inn -- 236 W. Main St., Rock Hill, 327-4227.

• Hope Inc. -- 404 E. Main St., Rock Hill, 328-8000.

• PATH-- 204 Raille St., York, 684-3992.

• Fort Mill Care Center -- 513 Banks St., Fort Mill, 547-7620.

• Christians Feed the Hungry -- Call the Rev. Ronal King at 417-3881.

• Clover Area Assistance Center -- 1130 S.C. 55 East, Clover, 222-4837.

• Salvation Army -- 119 S. Charlotte Ave., Rock Hill, 324-5141.

• Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, 915 Crawford Road, 366-2963.

IN SUMMARY

Think of those less fortunate as you tuck into the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

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