Organization puts headlock on hunger
– Mike Mooneyham
“When you’re hungry, nothing else matters.” — William Murdock
As executive director of the Asheville-based Eblen Charities, Bill Murdock knows all too well about hunger and the devastating effects it can have on children.
Last year Murdock’s organization reached more than 150,000 needy individuals with more than 70 programs providing medical, utility, rent, clothing, food and emergency assistance.
That’s a lot of ground to cover, but Murdock has seen the nonprofit grow from a garage sale to an internationally recognized organization over the past 25 years. What bothers him most, however, is that there are still children out there who fall through the cracks. And in Bill Murdock’s world, that is totally unacceptable.
“The need always outdistances the resources. Anyone who does any public service work would probably agree,” says Murdock.
The sobering truth is that North Carolina has one of the highest percentages in the United States of children under 18 years of age who are food insecure on a regular basis. According to statistics, one in five children in North Carolina are “food insecure,” an odd term used by the federal government to measure hunger. Unfortunately it means that child hunger is rapidly on the rise.
Many times the meals children receive at school is the only food they will have to eat, and when the holidays or other times away from school arrive, far too many face the chance of going hungry until they are back in class.
“When they’re away from school, whether it be on weekends or on holidays or during summer, it’s a major problem,” admits Murdock.
Children, he says, deserve the chance to have healthy meals and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. To that end, two years ago he launched Headlock on Hunger, an Eblen Charities outreach that helps provide meals for those who don’t get enough to eat. The program’s goal is to provide disadvantaged children access to food during break times from school. The drive also aims to provide snacks for students in primary and elementary schools, as well as students in after-school programs, whose parents cannot afford them.
Since kicking off the initiative, students in the Asheville community have received thousands of meals and snacks thanks to local and national wrestling teams, coaches and fans, as well as altruistic public and private organizations and companies.
The Southern Conference was one of the first to sign on to partner with the programs on a local and regional level.
“When we were doing our snack program, we kind of came up with a name, but it sat on the shelf for at least 10 years,” says Murdock. “When the Southern Conference started holding its basketball championship every year in Asheville, they decided they were going to bring their college wrestling championship here. I was asked to be on the local organizing committee.”
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For more information on the program, visit headlockonhunger.net, the Headlock on Hunger page on Facebook, or simply call Murdock at Eblen headquarters in Asheville.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMike Mooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.