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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.