Friday, February 19, 2010

There are starving kids in...

Because of my position as e-communications manager here at the South Plains Food Bank, I am always finding new websites that deal with the hunger issue. Many of the organizations deal with hunger on a more global scale.

I have been there. I have served as a volunteer on the mission field in very poor parts of Africa and other countries around the world. I know that there is a need there and I commend those whose hearts are being poured out for people around the world. While I was in South Africa serving, I lost so much weight, because there was just not enough food and when there was - I felt guilty for eating while those I was there to serve had nothing to eat for days. It was difficult.

I came home and experienced culture shock. I had an extremely hard time adjusting to our waste of food and other issues after all that I had seen. On one occasion, my mother had taken myself, my grandmother and another friend of my grandmother's to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. I tried to fill my plate without thinking of the children and families I had left behind, who would not eat that day or maybe for two or three days at a time. But as I returned to the table with very little on my plate, I began to cry. Tears streamed down my face and then I could not hold back my sobs. My mother was mortified and leaned over to ask what was wrong. I said, "There are starving children in Africa - and now I know their names!"

I tell you this because our hunger here, in America - and especially in Lubbock and around the South Plains, looks different than hunger you see on the nightly news and when you surf the web. Here we don't usually see children without shoes, in mismatched torn ragged clothes, bellies distended from routinely going days on end without food.

One face of hunger we see is in our own neighborhoods. It is families in nice houses, with nice cars, who attend nice churches, but we don't realize our neighbor has lost his job and she took a pay cut to keep her job. They have traded down their cars, disconnected cable/satellite, and never go out to eat anymore. Everything for them is now a struggle. This face of hunger is actually in my neighborhood. I know this family. We don't think about this face very often, but this economy has brought hunger next door.

So as you cruise out of your subdivision each morning - look around. There are hungry people here - and I bet you know their names.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Erin B.

Recently I recalled the scene in the movie Erin Brockovich where there is little food in the cabinet and a roach crawls over her foot and she drops the can she was opening (with a hand held opener the best I can remember). So she takes her kids out to lunch and lets them order whatever they want, but she only orders coffee. I guess I thought about it because working here and passing by our distribution dock throughout the day - I wonder about the lives of our clients.

I know right now I have a cousin who should and would qualify to get food from us, but can't afford to take off work to go get a voucher and redeem it. She is doing the best she can to provide for her 3 year-old son. I am sure she either misses meals so he can eat, or they go to her parents' house a couple of times a week to eat. I just wonder how many of our clients are skipping meals so their kids can have food. And how many other people could use food assistance, but since about 49% of our families have someone working in the household - maybe they can't afford to take off from work to get the help they so desperately need.

I think this is an area we need to look at and address - the number of people who are unable to get assistance because of the office hours we keep. Maybe this year we can help address this growing problem so our clients can still work, but also get help so no one has to skip meals.

Friday, February 05, 2010

One in Eight in Lubbock

Feeding America released its national hunger study this month. In 2009, thirty-six million Americans received food assistance from a food bank or food bank agency. That translates into one in eight Americans, one in eight Texans, one in eight of my neighbors.

One in eight rings true when I see people I know coming to the food bank for themselves or for friends or family members who are struggling because of wages not keeping up with food prices or losing jobs.

Ron, a childhood friend of mine was in the office this week. My daughter and his son had been in the same first grade class. From my office, I could see him in the lobby. Friends of mine stop by all the time to volunteer or drop off food donations. Expecting the same from Ron, I stepped out to say hello and quickly realized he was uncomfortable seeing me.

Ron had lost his job before Christmas and needed help. It was awkward for him. It was awkward for me because Ron was not supposed to be one in eight... but he was.

Seeing Ron was an eye opening moment. Each day at the South Plains Food Bank, people from all walks of life pass through the food bank. Some I know, some I don’t. But what I realized when I saw Ron was that whether or not I know them… they are someone’s neighbor or mother or father or child. They are someone’s one in eight.
Keep your eyes open.

(Here is local information about Hunger on the South Plains.)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Hidden Treasure

Earlier this week the aromas coming from Sheila's kitchen were so delicious that I found myself tip-toeing into her kitchen to see the mouth watering concoctions she and her staff were making. There on the stainless-steel table I found a buffet of culinary wonders! Beautifully made bread sticks, succulent lasagna, a gorgeous side salad, and some heavenly looking parfait. Of course I was completely jealous of the bridge group who had wisely chosen to move their event to our cozy Wall of Honor room and ask Sheila to cater for them. They were in for a special treat. I know what you're saying to yourself, "I had no idea the Food Bank catered or had a room we could use for an small meeting or event!" Yes, we do! So if you are trying to find a new meeting place, don't want to pay a fortune, want to help a great cause, and but of course - want to sample savory dishes then give us a call. We would love to help you host your next gathering. Contact Sheila at 763-3003.