My Gosh. What if that were the headline tomorrow? What if you picked up the newspaper and instead of the bad news you generally brace yourself for, you found out we achieved something of value and that we did it together?
September is Hunger Action Month. It’s a nationally recognized time when we shine the spotlight on those who are struggling to put food on their tables. While frequently we think of people in need of food as those who are homeless (and yes! they obviously need food, too) but people who have an apartment, a mobile home or a rental home are also hungry. They skip meals in order to afford housing, healthcare, car insurance, shoes for their kids.
Full disclosure – I work at a Food Bank and my co-workers and I see so much hardship. We recently served a grandmother who has taken on the care of three grandchildren while her son undergoes cancer treatment. With frequency we serve women who have finally moved out of an abusive situation and need food for their kids while they go get their GED. We see people who work a couple of jobs, but have no benefits that include health coverage, so they pay all that out-of-pocket. Last year a middle school client told us that both his parents were laid off the same week. An earlier blog post of mine “Hunger is Not a Game” chronicles one encounter with a young boy carrying the weight of his family’s needs.
Solutions? Yes! We have masses of extra food in our country. Haven’t we all thrown out food and thought, someone should do something about this?
Through the generosity of grocery partners, our Food Bank receives food that is nearly at its sell-by date and we turn it around within 24 hours to our partners to distribute to seniors, children, families, workers. Farmers, ranchers, and neighborhood community gardens give us food for clients so they have fresh, nutritious food to eat. Food drives sponsored by companies, churches, community organizations help round out a lot of need. Quite honestly, we partner with the state welfare division to help the effort to sign up people for SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) so that clients have a reliable source to purchase food while their lives are in turmoil. The people our staff assists have heartbreaking stories. They’ve run out of options. They set aside their pride and apply so they can feed themselves and their families.
My friends who volunteer and work at the Food Bank describe their passion in this video.
Just interviewing them gave me the lump in my throat. It’s great to know people who truly care about others.
The theme for 2012 is Speak Out Against Hunger. I encourage you to get involved. Speak up. Volunteer. So much of our lives are spent on the surface. Go deep. This is one cause that has solutions.