Recently, former food bank client Debbie Howard came by to tell us
how much she appreciated our help when she was in trouble.
Before it happened to her, she may have had some preconceived ideas
of what a food bank client was like: maybe they were lazy or didn’t
try hard enough. Then, a series of unexpected events in her life
turned her into a food bank client.
Debbie said, “Nearly four years ago, I found myself in a place I
never thought I would be, standing in line outside the food bank waiting
for it to open. My life had taken several bad turns and I had just gotten
home from the worst one. The people waiting with me were kind and supportive,
and when the doors opened there was even more kindness and support when
I needed it most.
“At the time, I didn’t know how long I would need the help I received
I was just grateful that they were there. They helped me with finding
resources when I needed help with the power bill. They listened and
offered encouragement as well as food boxes.
“It took a while longer than I imagined that it would, but my life
has turned around. I have a job that I love and I am able to take care
of myself and my daughter. I don’t know where I would be without the
ShareNet Food Bank.”
Debbie Howard’s story is unique to her, and one of thousands we receive
every year. We may hear these stories every day, but we never lose sight
of the individuality of these faces and stories.
Hunger is an issue with many different paths to the same result.
People from an astonishing variety of backgrounds and lives face hunger.
Recently, we talked with an elderly couple who’d worked their whole
lives, but were now dividing an apple for dinner. You think, well, how
can that happen, but it does. Earlier this summer, we spoke with a woman
who’d worked for one of the banks that failed, with most of her retirement
invested in company stock. After that, the retirement she envisioned
was gone. She saw a completely different side of life, and had
a new respect for food banks.
Hunger is about more than food: it’s about jobs, education, and the
cost of living, housing and food particularly. It’s also about the feasibility
The baby boomers working low-wage jobs for whom retirement is not
an option are already at food bank doors, and this is just the first
wave. For some, health issues or advanced age have forced retirement
regardless of funds, and these folks are seeking help.
If we didn’t have enough evidence on site at the food bank, we know
children and their families are struggling because we work so closely
with our local public schools via our Food to Grow On (F2GO) backpack
program. It’s heartbreaking to think of a child or teen malnourished
to the point it changes their development, their ability to learn and
their behavior in school, but it happens.
ShareNet started out to feed hungry people, not with any loftier
goal than that. But now we find we’re in the business of helping turn
lives around. We can only do that with your help.
Can the gift of food and community turn lives around? We’ve seen
over and over that it can.
Neighbor Aid is the annual campaign which determines the level of
service ShareNet is able offer in the coming year. The campaign is underway
through the end of 2015.
— Mark Ince is executive director of ShareNet. He can be reached
by calling 360-297-2266.