You can’t see hunger, but it is all around us. Forty million Americans — that’s 1 in 8 — are not getting enough to eat. And while hunger may not be easy to see, it does not discriminate.

Hunger is the third grader with a growling stomach eyeing his classmate’s sandwich, the elderly woman rationing out a chicken into “just enough” portions, and the single mom eating leftovers off her kids’ plates for dinner.

Food insecurity is a problem in every corner of America. Right here in Tennessee, 13.9% of the population, approximately 934,310 people, are food insecure. They are your neighbors and your coworkers.

According to Feeding America, 95% of the people served by food banks and pantries are not homeless; they are people struggling to keep up with their bills each month. In fact, 69% of them are forced to choose between buying food and paying utility bills. The choice between food and electricity is one no one should have to make.

Publix takes its responsibility to feed people — all people — seriously. That is why we work to alleviate hunger every day.

For example, Publix Super Markets Charities is committing another $5 million to food banks and other programs across the Southeast to ensure our children, veterans, seniors and families have enough to eat. That’s more than $22 million donated by Publix Charities over the past five years.

And that’s in addition to the more than $86 million in goods donated through Publix’s Food for Sharing program since 2009.

Publix is grateful to Feeding America member food banks, schools and other nonprofit organizations for their backpack programs, senior meal boxes, pantry staples and other programs that allow our neighbors to eat and pay their bills.

We are proud to work together to help our communities, so this Hunger Action Month, join Publix,

Publix Charities, Feeding America and me as we continue our commitment to:

• Acknowledge: Hunger isn’t an abstract problem; it’s real and it’s right here in our neighborhoods. Let’s educate ourselves about the needs and available resources in our communities.

• Act: Donate your time or resources to support those serving the food insecure where you live. If possible, break bread at a local food pantry with those who don’t have enough to eat.

When our neighbors go hungry, it affects every aspect of their lives and limits their potential. It is incumbent upon us — all of us — to make sure they have full plates, so they can reach their full potential.

Todd Jones is CEO of Publix Super Markets Inc. and began his career there in 1980 as a front-service clerk. Publix is the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the United States.

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