Hunger Action Week returns for its second year this September. The annual series of events, organized by the Food and Nutrition Coalition, a subcommittee of Kent County’s Essential Needs Taskforce, boasts a revamped itinerary and a sharper focus on advocacy.

The series begins Wednesday, Sept. 5, with a poverty simulation coordinated by Access of West Michigan and hosted by the YMCA at its David D. Hunting branch in downtown Grand Rapids. This free event allows participants to experience one month in poverty, as they try to survive on a painfully limited budget.

On Thursday, United Church Outreach Ministry hosts a healthy food cook-off at its site on Chicago Drive in Wyoming. The cook-off pits local chefs against each other as they create original dishes with YMCA Veggie Van produce and food pantry staples. Guests will be able to sample food from both the guest chefs and the Veggie Van staff. The Fair Food Network will also distribute information about Double-Up Food Bucks, a program offering matching grants for SNAP recipients who shop at participating farmers’ markets.

Hunger relief agencies across Kent County open their doors to the public on Friday to give curious visitors a glimpse into the world of food pantries and food banks. The Paper Plate Project, on display at most locations, tells the story of hunger through the voices of food pantry clients.