Your Stories

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.

Cynthia and Stephen
Your Story: Cynthia and Stephen
Illinois
Cynthia works full time to take care of her family. Her husband has kidney disease and cannot work....
Cynthia and Stephen
Your Story: Cynthia and Stephen
Illinois

When we first moved to Wilmington from Chicago all we had was a place to live. I had no job and our car was on its last leg. My husband, Stephen, had recently been diagnosed with kidney disease and to this day is living without kidneys. He receives regular dialysis to survive which prevents him from being able to work.

We moved to Wilmington because I spent my youth here. When Stephen got sick we needed to be in a community full of people we knew cared; and that is exactly what we found. Through connections I was quickly able to find a position as a personal care assistant to a man living with disabilities. I work full time but even still, I don’t make enough to provide for our family of five. We have three young children – Stephen Jr. who is eight, Amber who is seven and our baby Ashley who is five – and it’s a constant struggle to make sure we are meeting all their needs.

There have been many times I’ve wondered how I would feed my children. When I placed them in school however, someone told me about the BackPack program – sponsored by the Northern Illinois Food Bank – that sends my children home with backpacks full of nutritious food every Friday. Each weekend, they are excited to get home and see what is in their backpacks and I am relieved knowing our entire family will get enough to eat.

I know that soon things will get better for us. We recently received amazing news – they have found a kidney donor for my husband. This next year he is scheduled to receive a transplant and soon after that he’ll hopefully be able to work again. Until then I am so thankful for this community and the BackPack program here. It is helping us get through a tough time and reach a brighter future.

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Mercedes - Louisiana
Your Story: Mercedes
Louisiana
Tragedy struck my life two years ago. My daughter was killed, leaving no one but me to raise her...
Your Story: Mercedes
Louisiana

Tragedy struck my life two years ago. My daughter was killed, leaving no one but me to raise her children - who range from age two to 14 - including a set of five-year-old twins. Coping with the death of a daughter and six new mouths to feed is tough. But I didn't ask for a dime, I just stretched the dollars I earned as a full-time caregiver to the max — until I lost my job.

I know these children have gone through so much — it's painful to look in their eyes and know they will never see their momma again. I want to provide everything I can to my grandchildren, but after losing my job, I would lie awake wondering how I was going to feed them. That uncertainty — it's not a good feeling.

I learned about the food pantry — supported by Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana — through a friend of mine who saw me struggling. You know, I didn't go right away because I was ashamed. But then I realized shame wasn't going to feed these six children. When I showed up at the food pantry, they took care of me. They gave me food and said "If you're ever running low, you just call us. Even if we're not open, we'll make sure you have enough to feed those kids." Since then, I've never had to worry about feeding my grandchildren. The food pantry has been my angel.

The past couple of years have been tough on all of us. We have our bad days, but we have our good days too. The support I receive from the food pantry has helped me get through, and so has the joy I find in my grandchildren. Every time I look in their eyes, I see a part of my daughter in them — and I know she'll always be with us. Life sure has thrown us a hard ball, but if we hang in there and stick together, things will be all right. I know eventually, we're going to come out on top.

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Your Story: Mark and Beverly
Your Story: Mark and Beverly
"Without the food pantry, we would probably have to choose between paying the bills and eating....
Your Story: Mark and Beverly

I went to college in Memphis, TN, but I came back to Arkansas to earn my master's in marketing and haven't left since. For more than a decade I worked in marketing and communications at a local college. I was good at my job – in the years I worked for them, I helped double their enrollment. But times got tough a couple years ago, and they laid me off.

Ever since then it's been a struggle. I'm educated, I'm experienced, but yet, I can't find a job. I apply and apply, but hardly ever hear back. My wife is a substitute teacher, but lately even substitute jobs are in short supply.

It's been rough for us. Keeping the electricity on is our biggest challenge. We heard about the food pantry – supported by Feeding America member Arkansas Food Bank – from my mother-in-law. It was humbling to go, but there's no shame in asking for help when you need it. Now, we go each week and volunteer as well. Without the food pantry, we would probably have to choose between paying the bills and eating. That's not a choice I want to submit my wife and daughter to.

The food pantry provides us with food – but it also provides me with a sense of purpose during this difficult period of unemployment. I know that on Tuesdays, I am going to volunteer at the food pantry, and I'm going to help some people. That makes me feel good. The food pantry has made a difference in our lives, and that is something my family will never forget.

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Jacqueline
Watkinsville, GA
Jacqueline
Watkinsville, GA
The North Oconee FFA is planning the first ever Hunger Simulation Dinner and Auction and the 2nd Annual Rally Against Hunger. The dinner is designed to teach our community about the reality of hunger and food insecurity as well as raise money for the RAH (because each meal cost 25 cents). The Rally Against Hunger is a meal packaging event. Last year we raised $6,250 and packaged 25,052 meals! This year we have an even larger goal of $7,500 and 30,000 meals. We hope that we will be able to exceed this goal and feed even more people in need!
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Bill D.
Myrtle Beach, SC
"I retired 5 years ago and have found a full life volunteering in a community garden where we raise...
Bill D.
Myrtle Beach, SC
I retired 5 years ago and have found a full life volunteering in a community garden where we raise vegetables to share with the hungry of our community [including our food bank and soup kitchen] and sharing a meal weekly with up to 70 homeless neighbors. We are able to spread out a buffet of dishes like you would see at a family reunion or church supper every week. We share more than a meal. Sitting to eat and really listening to each other brings understanding and community. We provide many other necessities our homeless friends need too. After two homeless died of the cold in out town last week, we are looking to open emergency shelters.
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Jerry
Marianna, FL
My spouse and myself help and volunteer at our local food, bank along with several others in the...
Jerry
Marianna, FL

My spouse and myself help and volunteer at our local food, bank along with several others in the Marianna Senior Care Office. And the person in charge has dedicated over 24 years to the hunger of local families. As we can not praise her enough for her cause we are very proud to be a helping when needed. We along with many others volunteer are senior citizens ourselves. And we volunteer for other places in our area also. We put in many hours, but we cannot in no way think it is not for a good cause. So again we like to send a very warm praise to the one in charge in our area. For without her there may not be a local food bank. We are here for the needy and to help feed the families and a little hand in feeding AMERICA.

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Lynn
Salinas, CA
I am now the State President of California Women for Agriculture and I continue to share my struggle...
Lynn
Salinas, CA

I grew up never going without...without food, shelter or hope. As a child, I would give to the local shelter kitchen at holidays and this just became a habit that has carried on to this day. But little did I know that one day I would be on the receiving end of the help. You see, seven and a half years ago I filed for divorce...it was a very ugly divorce, well is there any that aren't? At the time I was living an hour away from my parents, working for $9 per hour and taking care of two small children, also insert PG&E, water, mortgage, car payment....you get the picture. I was not receiving any financial support at all. The bank claimed the house and my parents had to buy me a car because I could not afford the payments on the vehicle I was driving so the bank took that too. I'm not gonna lie, it was really bleak. There were days that I went without lunch and dinner to make the food stretch for a day or two.

I know the pain of having very little money and trying to figure out how to pay the electric bill, put gas in my car to get to work so I could make money to buy a gallon of milk for the kids. Opening my refrigerator and to see empty shelves made me loose hope. Many nights I cried myself to sleep praying that things would get better. On the outside, no one knew of my struggle...I kept it hidden because I was embarrassed. I sat on a State Agricultural organization board and feared I would lose my position if I let on of my hard times.

The kids and I got creative, you may call that survival mode. There were several months during the winter that we had no heat in the house...propane and electricity is expensive...so we pretended to "camp" in our home. I know more ways to prepare ramen noodles than I care to admit. A friend of mine, when she realized what we were going through, took me to the county office to sign up for the local food bank. You see, I always believed that there were others in far more need that I, so I never utilized the service. That first visit I cried. I cried because I saw the lack of food that the food bank had to give....but not only the lack of food but it was also out dated and what little produce they had was almost spoiled. It pained me to be living in such a rich agricultural area and the level of produce for the taking was dismal. But what came out of that was hope...because when the shelves in the fridge and cupboard are full it gives hope.

Flash forward to last November.......the agricultural organization I belong to (California Women for Agriculture) was having a meeting in Monterey California, at the time I was the State President Elect. I no longer needed assistance from my local food bank, life had started to even out a bit and I was starting to share my story(struggle). Our speaker at the meeting was the Executive Director of a local organization called "Ag Against Hunger". I sat there and listened to the brilliant work they were doing and noticed the tears flowing from my eyes because this organization was giving hope. I started to follow Ag Against Hunger and noticed in May of 2014 they were looking for a Deputy Director. I immediately applied for the job, I may not have had all the qualifications but I knew the struggles and had "real world experience". As of today, I am the Executive Director of Ag Against Hunger.....I get to make sure there are families out there like my kids and I who have "hope" in their refrigerators and cupboards. I like to call AAH "the facilitators of hope"...we are NOT a food bank but rather the legs to get surplus produce to food banks in our tri county area and beyond. We have food banks from all over California, Arizona, Oregon to name a few states and even added Oklahoma. Everyday we are working hard to make a difference.

I am now the State President of California Women for Agriculture and I continue to share my struggle and encourage my fellow members to give to their local food banks. I am quick to remind that "hunger doesn't have a specific look" it could be anyone you know. I've learned so much from my journey, but most importantly is that you never know when you could need help and that it's a hand up not a hand out that we are giving. As hard as it was to go through all of struggle, it has only made me more focused to make sure no one goes without food/hope. Best, Lynn Figone Executive Director-Ag Against Hunger State President- California Women for Agriculture

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Ann
Fort Worth, TX
Ann
Fort Worth, TX

I am a member of Saginaw Lions, an International club .We help people in need all round the world as well as locally. We hold a "Fight Against Hunger" event in Nov./Dec every year. The food we collect is given to 1st Community Link in Saginaw who give out help to our local community.

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