Elizabeth Benitez with plates she translated.
September 19, 2016
by Elizabeth Benitez

My name is Elizabeth Benitez, and I live in Yuma, Arizona. I have a lot of passion for helping others and I enjoy volunteering; it is a rewarding experience. Even though I work and am a full-time student, I help the community when I can, volunteering in my free time.

I learned about the Yuma Community Food Bank (YCFB) in my capstone business class. The CEO of YCFB came to my class and gave a motivational speech and presented facts about food insecurity in our community. He then told us about the “Plates of Hope” project they were currently undertaking to raise awareness of the problem of hunger and funds to help fight it.

“Plates of Hope” is a book full of stories written on paper plates from people who have been helped by the Yuma Community Food Bank. There are a lot of Hispanics in our area that face hunger, especially in the summer due to seasonal jobs. In our class, the CEO explained that there are lots of paper plates written in Spanish; however, the food bank didn’t have the money to pay for a translator. Since Spanish is my first language and English my second one, I offered to volunteer for the project, translating stories from Spanish to English. Some of the paper plates that I translated will be included in the book Plates of Hope scheduled for publication in November.

Translating the plates was not easy. It was hard on me emotionally. While reading the many different stories about food insecurity my eyes filled with tears, and many times I had to stop and give myself a break. Most of the stories are very deep and touched my heart.

I’d like to share one example of these powerful stories. Someone wrote: “Life is beautiful, but when you are hungry, life is sad. It is hard to see your own kids being hungry, looking for a piece of bread or milk. I am a single mother with four kids, I struggle every day, and I work very hard to provide my kids everything; however, the money that I make is not enough. I have to make life decisions, to pay the rent or to buy food? So there are days that we don’t have nothing to eat.”

When I read this story, I cried. It is hard to believe that there are still many children facing hunger in America, but sadly this is the reality.  

After participating in this project, my perspective on hunger in America has definitely changed. Food insecurity is a very serious problem that is affecting people in the United States. There are thousands of families who are in serious need of food. I realized that hunger is a bigger problem than I ever imagined!

After getting involved with “Plates of Hope” project, I have become more involved with the food bank and I plan to keep volunteering. Every time that I have the opportunity, I share with friends the importance of donating to and volunteering with the food bank, which is working hard to fight the very real problem of hunger that is affecting too many Americans. I believe that all together, we can fight hunger and create smiles on the faces of people who might otherwise be sad from empty stomachs.

Tags: Hunger Heroes , Latino / Hispanic Hunger , Arizona , Yuma Community Food Bank

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