Pope's message to end hunger hits home in Inland Empire


At Helping Hands Pantry in San Bernardino, extra loaves of bread help Diana Taggart fill a need in her own community.

"So whatever I have, I call over and say, 'OK, I've got "x" amount loaves of bread or hamburger buns, come get what you want,'" said Taggart.

Last week Pope Francis launched a campaign to end hunger worldwide. The Vatican posted his message on YouTube, calling on all faiths to pray and take action.

"We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion people who still suffer from hunger today," said the Pope.

It's a message that resonates with food bank operators like Paul Dickau.

"Everything that we need to end hunger is here available for us. All it is is a matter of getting it to the people who need it instead of wasting it," said Dickau, who runs Helping Hands.

A United Nations study estimates roughly 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted.

"The hope is that because Pope Francis, his leadership and his message has been so well received, that that is just going to draw more people into the various opportunities that there are to feed the hungry," said John Andrews, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino.

Andrews says part of that includes influencing public policy decisions that impact hunger.

"We were asked as Catholics by the bishops to make sure that certain programs weren't cut: the SNAP program, what used to be the food stamp program," said Andrews.

Because despite the federal food stamp program, the need is still great right here at home.

On Friday, Catholic Charities, an arm of the Diocese, was out collecting food donations for the estimated 2,000 families it will feed in the Inland Empire this holiday.

While much of the food collected here will go toward helping the needy this holiday season, Pope Francis is calling for action 365 days a year.

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