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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Give Food

“They had to go without food...because they ran out of food stamps.” This after-school story, about one of my daughter's friends, caught my attention. A friend went without food? Here? In Shelby County?

I think a lot about global causes. Africa. India. Those poor children abroad. I don’t want to diminish those veritable causes. But apparently there are plenty of needs not being met right next door. I feel a bit ashamed that I’ve easily taken for granted the meals I’ve never gone without. We actually have hungry people in this bountiful community of ours.

Rattled about my lack of knowledge, I emailed Dena Matthews, the Shelby County Outreach Coordinator, who obliged me with some pertinent facts. Did you know since July, the food pantry has helped 160 households and served 446 individual family members? And hunger has failed to discriminate across generations. It strikes children, single parents, single adults who’ve lost jobs, the elderly, the disabled, and even those who are working but struggle to make ends meet because of low wages.
Dena mentioned that specific needs of the pantry change because of the various donations received through the Food Bank for the Heartland. Currently, our pantry needs toilet paper, shampoo, boxed potatoes/boxed meals, breakfast items, tuna, and soups. Stop. Toilet paper. Have I ever had to worry about purchasing something so basic? The answer is no. And I wish I could report that I’ve always been mindfully grateful. Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of needs. A call or visit to Shelby County Outreach Center can provide you more information.

According to the US Census Bureau, 9.1% of our Shelby County lives below the poverty level. That’s over 1,000 people in a fairly confined radius. And our local food pantry has no income guidelines to qualify. They only need to live in Shelby County. Households can receive up to four pantries per year. 
When I was young, I remember complaining to my mother about supper. “We’re having hamburgers…again!” Her response? “I know plenty of families living on less than macaroni and cheese. Eat up.”  At the time, I didn’t believe her. But she wasn’t being over-dramatic, as I had assumed. And, as I found out much later, she was speaking from experience. She knew what it was like to skip a few meals, since she grew up below the poverty level.
I have never been hungry. Truly, the fact that anyone has to be hungry is an injustice. I am more than blessed. Now it’s my turn to share these blessings with neighbors in the community. I hope you all consider the same during this holiday season...and perhaps beyond.

1 comment:

Rubi J said...

Well said. Thanks for reminding us.