From a child receiving a hot lunch to a volunteer sorting apples to a truck driver delivering donated food to an individual making a donation. These are the stories that paint the full picture of the issue of hunger in America.
I first visited my local food pantry five years ago. I am a single mother and although I work almost every day, it’s just not enough. I needed some extra help – so I decided to ask for it. Visiting the pantry changed my life. Not only has it helped me feed my growing girls, but it also has given me a community and a purpose beyond what I could have imagined.
I began volunteering at the pantry a few months after my first visit. I was with my daughters and the coordinators asked if anyone in line could help translate Spanish to English for them and help hand out food. We all volunteered – and have been volunteering every Friday ever since.
Volunteering for us is a family affair. Each one of my daughters has a different role. The youngest, who is seven, helps me hand out food, while my fourteen year old runs a distribution table by herself. Through our time at the pantry, I have been able to teach my children the value of giving back and helping people in need – a lesson I hope they carry with them all of their lives.
The pantry has also taught us the value of community. Through volunteering I have built invaluable relationships with my neighbors – who are both the people we serve and my fellow volunteers. People around town recognize me now; they say hi and share their stories. They tell me how much the food pantry is helping them – and it feels good to know I am making a difference in their lives.
I love volunteering. I look forward to Friday each week and my children do as well. Although it can be discouraging to see how many people are in need, I find hope in the fact that even more people are willing to help. I encourage everyone to learn more about their local food pantry and get involved. Volunteer or donate. I promise, even giving back in a small way can make a big difference – in your life and the lives of others.
I’ve provided for myself throughout my life. Not just myself – I raised six children, worked full time and never once had to ask for help. When I first retired, I retired on a small subsistence farm where I live to this day. I spent years selling rugs I wove and wool I spun, and for a long time it gave me enough money to live on. But when the recession hit people no longer had money to purchase my goods, and I really haven’t been able to recover since then.
I consider myself a very resourceful person, and I do what I can to provide for myself. I have chickens that give me eggs and I grow a lot of my own vegetables – but I still need more food than that to help me stay healthy and strong. When business first went south, I was struggling, but I didn’t want to ask for help. There came a point however, when I had to choose between buying food and paying for heat. Winters in New England get very cold – there’s a wind chill of -11 today – so I put my pride aside and went to my local food pantry.
The people at the food pantry made asking for help easy. They were respectful and they truly cared. I now rely on the food pantry to help supplement the food I can grow and the little can afford to buy. Without its help, I just wouldn’t have all the food that I need.
It’s not easy to admit you need a helping hand when you’ve lived an independent life for decades. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from visiting the food pantry, it’s that I’m not the only one who struggles. There are so many people going through the same things I am, and everybody – in one way or another – has rough times. It’s very, very comforting to know that I have my friends at the food pantry to help lift me up when I fall and enable me to not only get through – but also enjoy – my golden years.
Kim First and Jeff Appelbaum give both their personal and professional time supporting Feeding America while running their California-based international consulting firm, The Agency Worldwide. They believe in the value of giving nationally and locally through the Los Angeles Food Bank and have encouraged their children, employees and colleagues to join the fight against hunger.
As Jeff says: “For me, hunger-relief is something that my family has been involved with for a long time. I remember that my grandmother used to volunteer at the downtown Sacramento Food Closet – growing up and seeing homeless and hungry people and hearing her talk about why she volunteered is something that always stuck with me.”Jeff and Kim reflect this sentiment in their own giving and by involving their children and their employees. "We connected to Feeding America because it allowed us to educate our children on philanthropy and giving back to the community. When we first found out about the organization, it was about supporting initiatives like the BackPack Program, which is something our children can understand and even relate to when you are going to get their school supplies and talking about education. The ability to involve our children is one of the aspects that attracted us to the organization.
We support the Los Angeles Food Bank and volunteer there along with our employees at The Agency. They were excited and interested in helping out at the food bank. It’s a reminder that we are so fortunate, and it is also very satisfying to provide our time and help with the cause. Volunteering is something tangible and something you can wrap your arms around.
We give nationally to Feeding America because we want to also make a difference on a larger scale. The fact that we can help fight hunger like that via our company is something that’s very exciting for us. That most of our contribution goes to helping others is also a big piece of how we make the decision to support an organization. We know the resources directly support the programs that are important to us and that we believe in. We can help so many people in our community and around the country through Feeding America and the network food banks – that’s what we connected with."
Supporting Feeding America is a natural extension of The Agency Worldwide’s mission to partner with organizations committed to the betterment of the quality of life.
Alex Hertzberg is President of HertzbergMedia in Los Angeles and a supporter of Feeding America for several years.
“It is very important for our family to be aware of other people’s struggles and needs. Of all the worthy causes to contribute our support, hunger relief is one with a reachable solution, and it just doesn’t make sense that anyone should be hungry in this country. Food and nutrition are basic necessities that we can help provide to our fellow Americans.
Of all the incredible hunger-relief programs at Feeding America, child hunger programs particularly resonate with my family. Kids cannot thrive at school or in life when they are hungry. All children deserve the basic nourishment to live healthy lives.
My family and company supports Feeding America and our local food bank because our philanthropic goals are to improve our neighborhood through an organization that can ultimately improve every neighborhood. Feeding America excels at developing partnerships at every level to raise awareness and yield remarkable results for hunger relief. I am confident that my time, energy and donations are helping to solve hunger.”
For nearly a decade RJ and Teresa Devick and their three daughters have been generous supporters of both Feeding America and local hunger relief efforts in their hometown of Minneapolis.
“Food security is so important. It’s one of the basic things people really need help with and we wanted to do our part to help meet that need. When my company hosts work events, we ask our clients to bring money or food for our local food shelf, so it has always been a part of our fabric to give back to our community this way.
We were very touched when we learned about programs like the Backpack Program, which are run by the Feeding America network of food banks, that help children get access to food over the weekends when they might otherwise go without. We were also glad to hear that Feeding America is helping senior citizens in need by partnering with organizations that go directly to the homes and residences of seniors who cannot leave to get the food they need to live a healthy life.
When we decide where to give, we use Charity Navigator. We saw Feeding America’s score, and learned that most of the donations actually go to the people who need it. That, coupled with knowing how widespread their services are, truly helped in our decision to provide our support.”
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