By this time, the very last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been eaten and we are turning our full attention to the upcoming Christmas holidays.

For many, the holidays involves more eating, from Christmas cookies, cakes and pies to office parties to family meals on Christmas Day. For too many here in Tuscaloosa, though, the holidays are pretty much like the remainder of the year: a scramble to find enough food to feed the family.

It may be rather hard to believe in this land of plenty, so many of our friends and neighbors throughout this area are food insecure -- they do not know where their next meal will come from. Imagine, if you can, going to bed hungry, not knowing if you will have anything to eat tomorrow. It is especially hard for parents who struggle to make sure their children have enough to eat.

According to the West Alabama Food Bank and other such agencies, one in every five residents of this area are food insecure. As startling as that is, approximately one-third of the children in the Tuscaloosa area are food insecure -- your own children probably know many of them and attend school with some of the. Another third of the food insecure in our area  are senior citizens, 60 and older, many living alone without family or friends.

The stats are startling and distressing, but they are simply just numbers. Hunger in the Tuscaloosa area is people. They could be members of your church or people you work with each and every day. They could be the parent who has to decide whether to pay for a child's needed medication or put food on the table. They could be the older couple down the street or the young mother struggling to pay bills in the wake of a divorce.They could be veterans trying to cope with physical or emotional injuries received in defense of this country.

They are not nameless, faceless numbers. They are real people, living among us and hurting each and every day. We must not turn away.